Photo credit: Alex Driehaus

Photo credit: Alex Driehaus

Prior sexual experiences could defer one from donating blood, FDA in process of changing policy

When Jacob Adams went to donate blood in the fall of his senior year of high school, he wore a “first-timer” sticker and excitedly proceeded to the donation station. He said he filled out a questionnaire and answered each question honestly, including a question about if he’d ever had sexual relations with a man.

He checked “yes.” He said he had recently had sex for the first time with his boyfriend, and they were both virgins beforehand — but when his answer was reviewed, he was deferred. Taken aback, Adams confided in a teacher whom he trusted, who then spoke to those in charge of the drive. Adams said he was told he had a lifetime ban on giving blood because he was gay.

Adams stepped into the area where many people recover after donating blood and cried.

“I was like, ‘What does this have to do with anything? I don’t have a disease. It’s just me, that’s who I am,’ ” Adams, now a freshman studying psychology, said. “I wanted to help people. That’s a really simple way to help. And I can’t — even though I’m perfectly fine.”

Under the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines, if a man has engaged in sexual relations with another man — even once — since 1977, the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the United States, he is ineligible to donate blood for life. In May, the FDA proposed an amendment to the ban, recommending that gay men could donate so long as it had been 12 months since they had oral or anal sex with a man, with or without a condom. The process to change the lifetime ban to a 12-month ban is still underway, Rodney Wilson, external communications manager of the American Red Cross in the Central Ohio Blood Services Region, said.

“All blood donation policies are set by the FDA, not by the Red Cross,” Wilson said in an email. “It is the position of the Red Cross and other blood banks that the current FDA lifetime deferral from giving blood for the MSM, which stands for men who have sex with men, population is not scientifically or medically warranted.”

More than 14,000 people were infected with HIV through blood transfusions before 1985, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Today, all blood is screened before it is donated, and the CDC stated that based on 2007-08 data, the risk of contracting HIV through a blood transfusion is one in 1.5 million.

While delfin bautista, director of the Ohio University LGBT Center, does not support the ban, bautista said they know people who have become infected with HIV via blood transfusion. 

“For a time, the blood donations weren’t being screened; now they are,” bautista, who uses they/them pronouns and the lowercase spelling of their name, said. “So when this policy was initially created, it made sense. We didn’t know how AIDS was transmitted and the assumption was it was a gay male disease. (Now) there really isn’t a justifiable reason to enforce the law because it specifically targets men who have sex with men.”

In addition to gay men, women who have had sex with a gay man are also deferred from donating blood, and anyone who has had sex with a commercial sex worker or an injection-drug user are also deferred from donating. People can also be deferred for reasons such as traveling abroad or for weighing less than 110 pounds.

Sarah Jenkins, program coordinator for the OU Women’s Center, said she feels these policies are different than the MSM policy, which she believes is discriminatory.

“I see those as very different because they’re not related to your identity as a human being,” Jenkins said. “I don’t see (the 12-month ban) as really taking care of the problem, which is that you’re discriminating against an entire class of people for something that makes no sense.”

The switch from a lifetime ban to a 12-month one is, according to the FDA, necessary because of a “window period,” which exists very early after infection. In this period, a person could test negative when they are actually infectious.

According to its website, “The American Red Cross performs laboratory tests for multiple infectious disease markers on every unit of donated blood.” HIV-1 and HIV-2 are included in these screenings. This window period can be as short as nine days, but the average is three months said Tania Basta, associate professor of social and public health at OU.

“I think the (lifetime ban) policy has become outdated,” Basta, whose area of expertise is HIV/AIDs, said. “I don’t know why the policy is still in effect given that there’s so many people who get HIV via other ways than just MSM.”

Having previously worked with HIV patients in clinics in Atlanta, Georgia, Basta said asking about behaviors as opposed to sexuality — through the term MSM as opposed to identifying as “gay,” for example — is helpful. Though she believes the lifetime ban is outdated, she said a 12-month ban on men who have recently had unprotected sex with other men may be helpful for extreme precaution. As far as changing the wording of questions, Basta said it’s all about trusting that people are honest and the problem comes with the fact that they require self-reporting.

“Anybody could say they’re in a committed relationship, but who knows what’s going on outside that close relationship?” Basta said. “Are there perfect questions? No. We have to trust that people are being truthful in their responses.”

According to the Red Cross, every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood — that’s more than 41,000 blood donations needed every day. The website states that one donation can help save up to three people's lives.

A study from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law projected that if gay and bisexual men were able to donate blood, men could provide 615,300 pints of blood a year.

The study states that increase would save up to more than a million lives.

Women who have had sexual conduct with women are not included in the MSM policy and therefore are eligible to donate, according to a statement from the Red Cross in 2015. Gay men, transgender individuals and bisexual individuals may be eligible to donate if the MSM policy does not apply, the Red Cross also stated.

On the other hand, black heterosexual women were at the highest risk of HIV infection at 5,300 in the U.S. in 2010, just behind MSM, according to AIDS.gov.

Including if the sexual acts were consensual or if protection was used is something bautista said they would suggest to include in future questionnaires. bautista said with the new recommendation, HIV-negative, married men who have sex with only each other are still denied from giving blood.

About five million people receive blood transfusions each year in the U.S., whether that be for injury, surgery, cancer treatments or treatment for diseases that affect the blood, such as sickle cell anemia.

Years ago, bautista received a call that their O-negative blood was needed for a 4-year-old with cancer.

O-negative blood is always in great demand and often in short supply because it can be transfused to all patients, according to the Red Cross.

Despite knowing they were not allowed to donate even though they were HIV-negative, bautista said they chose to lie about their sexual history in order to help the child.

“From then on, any time I received a call for a blood donation, I would donate,” bautista said. “All of the times, it was for children. These kids need it, and for me, that outweighs the discriminatory practice.”

bautista added that their partner, who they have been monogamous with for 13 years, is also HIV-negative but chooses not to donate blood out of protest.

Adams also said he doesn’t feel comfortable lying about his sexual practices and instead said he wishes for a systematic change to the policy.

“Cutting me off before they know (the HIV status) is such a waste,” Adams said. “There’s probably (people) who cleared their preliminary steps and (after being tested,) it’s dirty and thrown away. If they would have given me a chance, it would have been fine. I just want to help.”

Photo credit: Brian Fogel

Photo credit: Brian Fogel

Site created by Scripps associate dean looks to bust trolls, encourage women to speak openly online

Michelle Ferrier is watching for trolls.

On her website, TrollBusters, Ferrier creates what she calls a “hedge of protection” around women to let the trolls know that people are watching their behavior online. Ferrier, associate dean for innovation at the Scripps College of Communication, launched the updated website on Aug. 31.

Women experiencing online harassment can report an “SOS” to the site, to which the team will ask the victim how they want TrollBusters to engage — whether that be offering legal services or providing resources for psychological counseling. What sets TrollBusters apart, however, is its feature of sending a stream of positive messages to flood the hate comments.

Ferrier had been a columnist with the Daytona Beach News-Journal in Florida for two years when she started getting hate mail in 2005. Her writing wasn’t about anything controversial — she wrote about her family life and what it means to be a black mother. The mail came from a variety of sources, but many of the letters were all from the same anonymous person. Every few months, she would receive them at her house.

“Not only were they threatening a race war against black people, there were constant references to the n-word and killing n-people,” Ferrier said. “It got to the point in this last letter where you could tell he had totally devolved in his thinking and really blamed me and other black people for the issues that were happening in his personal life.”

Ferrier said she tried everything. She changed her work hours out of fear, wore different wigs in public to hide her identity and everywhere she went she carried a gun. She went to the local police, the CIA and the FBI. She bought cell phones for her children — who were six and eight years old at the time — because she wanted to know where they were at all times.

Because of the harassment and fear, she said she and her family moved from Florida to North Carolina, taking every cautionary step to make sure the harasser couldn’t track her.

North Carolina was a new slate, she said. Ferrier began teaching at Elon University, but when she wrote about diversity issues in the new media landscape on the side, people still flooded the comment section with hate speech.

While working at her new job, she said a young woman on campus became the victim of a racially-motivated attack. This sparked a conversation about race at Elon, and it was then that Ferrier decided she should share her own experience with racism to her class, including showing them the letters she received. She said she wanted to help them understand the impact of this kind of hate on people’s lives.

“A lot of them left the classroom in tears, just not understanding how that kind of hate … could still exist,” Ferrier said, adding that many came to the next class period with cards and letters. “The love letters I got from the students helped me emotionally deal with what had been a very traumatic several years of my life. It put some closure to it.”

But she wasn’t done yet. In January, she went to the International Women’s Media Foundation hackathon in New York. That’s when she remembered the outpour of love from her students.

“I thought, why address the trolls directly?” Ferrier said. “Why not look at a way for women (experiencing online harassment) to be able to support themselves — to let them know somebody’s there, to offer them psychological, technological and legal support in the moment when they need it?”

Ferrier presented her idea for TrollBusters at the hackathon and received a $3,000 top prize from Google. In April, the Knight Prototype Fund awarded her a $35,000 grant, which she used to develop the prototype.

In her online summer class, Social Media Management, Ferrier and her 15 students worked on creating a campaign against harassment. Karen Riggs, professor in the School of Media Arts and Studies who co-taught the online class with Ferrier, said even though the class was online, the hands-on learning was beneficial to the students.

“(Women) usually try to ignore the trolls … or they throw up their hands and say, ‘Well, I can’t deal with this anymore’ and they get offline, and the trolls win,” Ferrier said. “So if (the trolls) are talking about rape and killing people, we want to dilute that with positive messages — anything from positive quotes from Martin Luther King Jr., courageous quotes, inspiration quotes, funny things … to drown out the voice of the troll.”

Bobby Walker, a junior studying women's, gender and sexuality studies, said while she understands the importance of having support when giving an unpopular opinion, she is more committed to radical systemic changes in society as opposed to momentary solutions. Walker said she herself knows what it's like being harassed online as a woman of color.

“It would be a lot less scary to exist on the Internet if I knew that these people didn't have any sort of institutional power over me. I think that is the really scary part,” Walker said. “If we have that, then it doesn't matter that a man tells me mean, abusive things online because I would know that he has no institutional privilege and power over me and could not get away with any realistic threats.”

Program Coordinator for the Women’s Center Sarah Jenkins said a platform such as this is an important way to deal with issues short-term, especially for women and women of color.

“Technology and the Internet has been a boys’ club from its inception,” Jenkins said. “It’s still very hard for women and people of color to feel accepted in a lot of tech-related areas. It’s something that is controlled by white, middle-class men essentially, and our culture has yet to make adequate space for people who feel other ways.”

The hope, Ferrier said, is that women with a strong online voice won’t fear publishing their work.

“We want to let the trolls know that they can’t just bully this one person," Ferrier said. "There’s a team of people that have got this person’s back. ... We hope that alerts the troll that somebody’s watching, and they back off.”   

Photo credit: Alex Driehaus

Photo credit: Alex Driehaus

LGBT-inclusive preferred name and pronoun policy approved for the 2015-2016 academic year

Shortly before the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of same-sex marriage Friday, Ohio University President Roderick McDavis approved a policy that will allow for further inclusion of LGBT individuals on campus.

The preferred name and pronoun policy, which was approved June 4, will allow all OU students to state their preferred names and select their preferred pronouns in their Student Portal, said Delfin Bautista, director of the LGBT Center. This name and pronoun will then show up on professors’ class rosters, advising lists and anywhere a student ID card is swiped.

The policy is expected to “have everything in place that is needed” by mid-July and will be fully-functioning for student use in the fall, Bautista said.

“Hopefully, what this will create is there may be faculty who may never know the legal name of a student,” Bautista said. “They may have Rachel in class, and Rachel has always been Rachel, but they may never know that Rachel’s legal name is Richard.”

Thus, students no longer need to worry about their legal names unintentionally “outing” them because their legal name does not match their identity.

The policy not only applies to transitioning students, but also to students who simply have a different name they prefer to go by, such as “Bob” for “Robert.” Additionally, the policy can benefit international students who choose to go by an American version of their name.

“We also talked about students who may be able to change their last name because their parents got divorced or issues of sexualized violence. There are a number of issues why a person may also want to change their last name, so the system is in place to also allow for that,” Bautista said. “We purposely framed it so that many different types of groups could benefit from the policy.”

The name on a student’s diploma will still be their legal name or a slight variation of their legal name, said Debra Benton, who works in the Office of University Registrar and was part of the team that helped create the policy.

This policy comes from an effort started by the 2012-13 Student Senate’s LGBT commissioners, Taylor Hufford and Paige Klatt. Since that time, Hufford and Klatt worked closely with Bautista, former Vice President for Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi, Benton, and the Office of Information Technology on the technicalities of the policy.

The group plans to permit both the legal and preferred name on student ID cards, although “details are still being worked out,” Benton said.

“I think everyone, up to including the president, has been very supportive of the concept since it was introduced,” said Lombardi, who convened the group that met to discuss the policy. “It’s just been a long road because of the technology demands to make the change. Think of all the places you might swipe your ID: in housing, in campus rec. All these systems had to be synced up, and that has taken a lot of back-end effort to get done, and it’s been a heroic task by all of our staff.”

Ohio University is not the first school to enact such a policy. Miami University, Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve University all have preferred name policies, Bautista said, but OU has one of the few policies that also includes pronoun preference.

“There are a few schools that do both, but we are being a pioneer and a leader in not only respecting names but also pronouns,” Bautista said.

Students can select from more recognized, gender-inclusive pronouns such as she/her, he/him and they/them, as well as newer pronouns that Bautista said came out this year, such zie/zim and ey/em.

Students can then edit their pronouns from the provided list and thus are able to report any pronoun, Benton added.

Stefan Koob, a sophomore who is transgender, said that when entering campus as a freshman, he had to email all of his professors to let them know that he would not identify with his legal name Ashley or the she/her pronouns associated with it.

Once the policy is in place, students won’t have that problem any longer.

“All of my professors responded pretty quickly, and they were pretty OK about it, but (the policy) is going to be really beneficial for people who are anxious about having to email their professors,” said Koob, who is studying women’s, gender and sexuality studies. “I think it could (create acceptance) because any time a policy comes about, people understand and bring it into the light a little bit more just by hearing about it.”

Klatt said she is not sure whether the recent media attention on Caitlyn Jenner’s transition or the legalization of same-sex marriage played a role in getting the policy approved, but she said she hopes that the attention will help create acceptance of a policy of this nature.

“Our campus, in my opinion, is very accepting, and I think a majority of students and faculty will view the policy positively,” said Klatt, a senior studying specialized studies. “Of course there will be some who… will not agree, but I think having this policy in place will help combat some of those negative reactions. My hope is that we continue to educate the community and that if they have questions, they are asking.”

Although Lombardi will no longer be with OU after accepting a position with Cornell University, he said he is excited Hufford and Klatt will still be able to see their years of work put into place.

“OU has really prided itself for many years on being an inclusive campus. Having a system like this in place where students can really be affirmed through their preferred name and identity is so important to the rich history of inclusivity,” Lombardi said. “I only see good things from this change in policy.”

Graphic: Seth Archer

Graphic: Seth Archer

 

Wanted: Healthy food for Ohio University students on West Green

A student would have to eat almost three Big Mac sandwiches to eat the same number of calories in one Churrasco beef sandwich from the Hungry Cat food truck.

That beef sandwich, which is made with beef, bacon and mayonnaise, has 1,377 calories, which is almost twice as much as a Homestyle Asiago Ranch Chicken Club from Wendy’s, according to nutritional information available online.

The Hungry Cat is the university’s response to closing Boyd Dining Hall, the only dining hall on West Green.

With the food truck’s limited space to craft culinary delights, the university wanted to serve “authentic food truck-style food,” said Rich Neumann, director of Culinary Services, in an emailed statement.

“The major issue is space. Food trucks are very limited in storage space, and we designed the menu accordingly,” he said.

The small space offered on the truck limits the number of entrees that can be served.

However, Neumann added lower-calorie vegetarian options, such as the vegetarian white bean burger and the Gaucho mushroom taco, which are offered for students who seek healthier alternatives.

After receiving feedback from students, the food truck began offering whole fruit after Spring Break.

Freshman Maleek Irons, who has tried every entrée except for the vegetarian white bean burger, said he enjoys the different meals offered in The Hungry Cat.

“I think it’s better than the food that was in Boyd Dining Hall,” said Irons, who lives in James Hall on West Green. “I didn’t like Boyd at all. I thought it was nasty. (The Hungry Cat) is fast, (has) good food and (is) easy.”

Cassidy Pecuszok, a freshman studying communication sciences and disorders, knew that Boyd Dining Hall was closing when she moved onto West Green at the beginning of this year. She decided to save up her Flex points, and now eats at West 82, which accepts Flex points, Bobcat Cash and regular cash, several times a week.

“I think (Culinary Services) did a lot that they could have done, so I think it turned out well,” said Pecuszok, who lives in Boyd.

Some students don’t have this option due to their meal plans not including Flex Points.

Sophomore Sarah Showalter, who moved from Pickering on South Green to Ryors on West Green second semester, said she also only has a small amount of Bobcat Cash that funds her laundry trips. Showalter utilizes the Boyd Mini Grab and Go which offers limited salad toppings.

“At the Boyd Mini Grab and Go, the salad bar sucks. They don’t even have normal vegetables; they have lettuce, but that’s about it,” said Showalter, who is studying nursing. “When eating on West Green, it’s either unhealthy or popcorn for dinner.”

There aren’t fresh fruit options in Boyd Market, which is open despite construction on the building. Fresh fruits are available in Nelson Market on South Green.

Neumann said the lack of fruit options in Boyd Market is due to lack of space and that, when offered in the past, fruit didn’t sell.

Gwen D'Amico, a freshman studying music therapy who lives in Ryors, said that she takes the 10-minute walk to Shively Dining Hall several times a week. D’Amico is a vegan, and although the Hungry Cat offers two vegetarian options, both still contain milk, which is not consistent with a vegan diet.

“We need more fruits and vegetables at every market. I think that a lot of students would be happier with that,” D’Amico said.

Photo credit: unknown

Photo credit: unknown

West Green Students Being Offered More Healthy Options

At the suggestion of students, West Green now offers more healthy and vegan-friendly options.

The Boyd Mini Grab N Go, which previously served different hot foods, is now a “Create-Your-Own-Deli station.” This station offers vegan-friendly options such as hummus, fresh vegetables and salad items, said Assistant Director of Auxiliary Sales for Culinary Services Dan Pittman in an email statement.

The Hungry Cat food truck, which previously had a vegetarian white bean burger and a mushroom gaucho taco as the only vegetarian-friendly entrees, now additionally serves a spinach salad with or without shredded chicken. The Hungry Cat also serves whole fruits, which were added based on student recommendations during the Culinary Services Development Committee’s monthly meeting, a student-led group. The suggestions deride from comment cards at the dining halls, social media and in-person conversations with the staff.

“We are always updating our on-campus variety, and our team takes customer feedback very seriously,” Pittman said in an email.

Calvin Haines, a freshman studying mechanical engineering and living in James Hall on West Green, said he eats at Boyd “once or twice a day,” and is satisfied with the new changes.

“I had never eaten at the Mini Grab N Go before the change,” said Haines. “It was always really random food, but everybody likes sandwiches so people come more often.”

Olivia Gatto, also a freshman living in James Hall, frequents the new Mini Grab N Go since the change.

“The food truck used to have a lot of calories in every single option,” Gatto said, whose major is undecided. “(Now, they have) real food (available) that’s not buttered. It has definitely improved.”

Emily Apgar, a freshman studying graphic design and living in Ryors Hall on West Green, said due to her vegetarian diet, she struggled to find healthy options on West Green before the changes. Although she said she is glad The Hungry Cat offers a salad entrée, she is disappointed at the lack of variety.

“I always get spinach salad, but the food truck’s salad is mostly just spinach. They have tomato, cucumber and onion, but it’s not enough,” Apgar said. “(I would like) if you could have options about what you put in your salad, but I guess it’s more convenient for them to have it all together.”

Despite the changes, some students would rather stick to a traditional dining hall experience, such as Will Kern, a freshman living in Ryors Hall on West Green.

“Most of the stuff at the food truck is really unhealthy and the healthy stuff I don’t like,” Kern, who is studying finance, said. “I don’t really like the food here so I’d rather go to West 82, Shively (Dining Hall) or Nelson (Dining Hall).”

Apgar said because being healthy is a big part of her life, she is glad that Culinary Services is listening to student suggestions for healthier food.

“They could probably do better, but they’re making their way,” Apgar said. “It’s better than before.”

Art: Chance Brinkman-Skull 

Art: Chance Brinkman-Skull 

 

Polyamorous relationships redefine commitment, love

Jasper Wirtshafter had only ever known monogamy — just two people in one relationship.

He was in a four-year monogamous relationship in high school that ended, but in the second week of his freshman year at Ohio University, he attended a discussion with the LGBT Center.

That’s when he first heard the word “polyamory,” which is the physical state of being romantically involved with multiple people and having the consent of all parties involved. Someone suggested he read a book about the topic: The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy.

“I read it thinking, ‘Man, I could never do that,’ ” Wirtshafter, now a senior studying economics, said. “But by the time I got to the end of the book, I (thought) it was interesting. But I didn’t have the willingness to say to a person, ‘I like you, but I don’t want to be monogamous with you.’ ”

During his freshman year, he said it was a perfect coincidence that he started dating a man who brought up the idea of polyamory first. Wirtshafter began dating polyamorously throughout college, and after attending Beyond the Love, a polyamory convention in Columbus in November 2013, he was inspired to start a chapter — Athens Poly.

Formerly known as the Community of Alternative Relationships, Athens Poly welcomes non-monogamous relationships. The group of about 15 people usually meets at least three times a month on Saturdays and is open to all people — whether they are polyamorous or not.

Exploring polyamory

In the United States, it is against federal law to be married to multiple people at the same time.

But some people, like Athens Poly public relations director Pop Peterson, find a way around it.

Peterson is in a “triad,” which is a form of polyamory in which all three members involved are considered equals. He calls them his “partners” because they are financially bound in some way — but at the same time, he and his partners both have an ever-changing flux of boyfriends and girlfriends. The key to pulling off this relationship, Peterson said, is constant communication.

“The only reason I’d say polyamorous people are more apt for communication is because we don’t have a playbook to go by. In monogamy, everyone has assumptions about the way things are supposed to work,” the 26-year-old Athens resident said. “In polyamory, you don’t have a blueprint given to you from fairy tales, from parents. You’re pretty much starting with a blank slate.”

According to the American Psychological Association, about 40 to 50 percent of married couples end in divorce. And according to a study by the Institute for Divorce and Financial Analysts, the leading cause of divorce is “basic incompatibility” (43 percent) with infidelity being the second cause (28 percent).

“Monogamy is outdated. People can excuse cheating because I think, at the heart of it, people understand that occasionally … it’s ‘boys will be boys’ and ever so occasionally you’ll hear ‘a girl’s got needs,’ ” Peterson said. “That’s not to say that monogamy doesn’t exist, but I think the form of pure, natural, perfect monogamy that people strive for is unattainable and unreasonable.”

One of the biggest misconceptions about polyamory is that it’s an excuse to be unfaithful or have an affair, Delfin Bautista, director of the LGBT Center, said. Sarah Jenkins, program coordinator for the Women’s Center, added that many people automatically think of the polygyny-based TLC show Sister Wives.

Polygamy is an umbrella term for having multiple spouses. Polygyny is specifically when a man has multiple wives. Polyandry is specifically when a woman has multiple husbands according to the website More Than Two.

Polyamory focuses more on equality, rather than control, in the multiple relationships, Jenkins said.  

“In the case of Sister Wives, it’s really this husband in control, making decisions. And whether or not he’s communicating with his partners on those decisions, he ultimately has the final say,” Jenkins said. “I don’t think monogamy or polyamory are more or less legitimate than each other. Both are super-legitimate viable ways to live your life and be happy.”

Wirtshafter said when he talks about Athens Poly with people, particularly straight, cisgender men, some say they’d be polyamorous, if only they could “get away with it.”

“You’re welcome at our meetings to date all those (women), but you better be ready to have those three-hour conversations about your feelings because that’s way more of what you do in polyamory,” Wirtshafter said. “Pretty much the only thing I think all polyamorists can agree on is the main thing we do is communicate, all the time.”

Although many of the people that come to Athens Poly events also identify as LGBT, Wirtshafter said the majority of the people at Beyond the Love were couples or triples, middle-aged, and mostly heterosexual.

Polyamory in practice

Sara Burrows, former contributor for Carolina Journal Online and founder of the blog Polyamory Diaries, has become polyamorous with her partner, Brad, over the past year. In her blog, she tells stories and struggles about how she and Brad deal with the day-to-day life of polyamory while also parenting their 3-year-old daughter, Nora.

“(After I brought up the idea of polyamory), Brad admitted that he had felt this ball and chain on him ever since he found out that I was pregnant,” Burrows, who lives in North Carolina, said. “He had been afraid to tell me because he really did actually love me… It was these desires he had totally kept pushed down inside...because he didn’t want to lose his family.”

The two are more in love than ever, Burrows said. They live together, and sometimes when Burrows wants to bring over someone she’s been dating, Brad will take their daughter to the movies. Because of Nora’s young age, Burrows said she doesn’t complicate an explanation and tells Nora they are just friends coming over to the house.

Burrows doesn’t see the future conversation with Nora detailing the polyamorous lifestyle as a barrier. Because Burrows and Brad are beginning polyamory when Nora is so young, Burrows said, it’s already the “regular” for their family.

“(In monogamy) you’re expected to fill all these different roles. It’s kind of like putting all your eggs in one basket,” Burrows said. “Everybody thinks that friends should just fill every other need besides sexual… like Brad is supposed to be my primary person, the person I spend the most time with, and I don’t think it’s very natural to put restrictions like that.”

As far as how many people are currently polyamorous, the statistic is hard to pinpoint. It’s almost impossible, Bautista said, because one can’t be sure if polyamorous relationships are actually happening more, or if people have historically been polyamorous and are just now feeling comfortable enough to share their stories.

“I very much comfortably see me and my current partners growing old and dying together, but I’m also realistic enough to know that may not happen,” Peterson said. “In monogamy, you expect one person to be your everything. … In polyamory, you’re more allowed to bring what you have to the table and if that’s not enough, your partner isn’t going to expect you to do without. Your partner can find that missing piece elsewhere, and I appreciate that.”

Photo Illustration Credit: Lauren Bacho

Photo Illustration Credit: Lauren Bacho

 

Conventional Dating: Is it dying, or being enhanced for Generation Y?

If sophomore Kayla Blanton hadn’t met her current boyfriend of three and a half years back in high school, she said she’d have no clue what she would do in regards to dating.

“From my experience with guys on campus, no one has proven to me that they can be a gentleman and ask someone out on a date,” said Blanton, who is studying journalism. “Most people (in college) are just interested in sexual attraction, and the sad thing is, it’s not a secret.”

Conventional dating doesn’t seem to be a thing of the past – Blanton being a prime example – but technology is making it even easier for those more interested in hooking up than a relationship to connect.

Luke Abner, a sophomore studying screenwriting, has been using Tinder, a dating app, for over a year now.  

“I think Tinder is definitely for hooking up,” Abner said. “Drinking while Tinder-ing is the best way to go. You don’t really care what you say at that point.”

Abner stopped using the app seriously about a month ago, now using it to jokingly send messages to potential matches. Prior to that, however, Abner would log into his account on a friend’s iPhone for up to 30 minutes every day to get phone numbers of matches and later meet up with them on a night out.  

Some users, however, don’t look at Tinder that way. Abner adds that last year, when his roommate left the room after hooking up with a Tinder match, the girl was taken aback that all he had wanted from her was a one-night stand.

“She was like, ‘why do all guys do this, they’re such assholes,’” Abner said. “Obviously my roommate didn’t want a real relationship type thing, and I guess that’s what she thought was going to happen.”

Sarah Jenkins, program coordinator for the Women’s and LGBT Centers, said there’s a difference between how society expects men and women to approach dating. This can lead to disconnect when it comes to forming relationships, she added.

“In our society, women are allowed to be more connected to our emotions while men are encouraged to separate themselves from their emotions,” Jenkins said. “That makes it really hard to get a relationship going between a man and a woman when you’re struggling with those very different expectations on you.”

Kayla Meader, a sophomore studying graphic design, said she thinks that people in general are less willing to meet potential partners in real life.  

“I honestly haven’t had a date on campus since I got here last year,” said Meader, who was in a long-term relationship in high school. “When you have Tinder at your fingertips, you’re less likely to go meet people in the real world when you have the option to sit there on your phone without having to put pants on and leave the room.”

For LGBT folks, however, finding a safe place to look for something more than a hook-up can be a struggle. According to Delfin Bautista, director of the LGBT center, online apps and websites such as Tinder, which allow people to specify what they are looking for in their settings, can be a safe space for LGBT folks. But apps like OKCupid still don’t have options for LGBT individuals.

“People are online more than they are in person and because of the lack of social spaces here for LGBT folks, the apps take on a whole new life of their own,” Bautista said.

Increased used of technology can be helpful for college students that are in long-distance relationships.

“My boyfriend likes to text all day, but if I’m busy I’ll text him and be like ‘hey I’m studying I can’t talk right now.’ He gets it,” said Becca Mann, a sophomore studying exercise physiology, who has been dating her boyfriend who goes to OSU for two and a half years.

For couples that go to the same college, however, the use of technology can cause pressure to constantly stay connected, said Jessica Scott, a freshman studying psychology, who has been dating her boyfriend since her sophomore year of high school.

“We are able to see each other more, but we can also see each other too much,” Scott said. “It is nice that we know what it’s like to get annoyed with each other and still love each other. It’ll definitely make a transition like living together a lot easier than it is for couples who aren’t used to that.”

Photo Credit: Carl Fonticella

Photo Credit: Carl Fonticella

Women’s Center’s lone male worker inspires LGBT students

When senior Kyle Serrott talks about his grandmother, Ronnie Serrott, his face lights up.

Ronnie raised Kyle because neither of his biological parents were fit for the task. She inspired him to not only attend college, but to study gender equality.

As he works on his bachelor of specialized studies with a specialization in law, race and gender, he can also be found in the Women’s Center in Baker Center, as the only undergraduate male student worker. But this fact isn’t a big deal to him — he proudly identifies as a feminist.

“I’ve always taken an interest in people,” he said. “My grandma was very independent and raised me my whole life. She taught me I should respect women and care about everybody. To me, feminism is caring about everybody.”

There’s a stigma associated with male feminists, said Patty Stokes, an assistant professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies who had Serrott in class for feminist theory.

“Men that have involvement in feminism understand that it’s not their place to be the big leader, but to share the spotlight with women and not crowd out women’s voices,” Stokes said. “Kyle most certainly falls into that category.”

Serrott senior capstone research project focuses largely on these gender issues and specifically on the construct of masculinity in homosexual men.

Serrott also works with the LGBT mentorship program, a program new this year that helps LGBT students navigate the campus and come to terms with their sexuality.

“Coming out was scary,” he said. “For anyone who identifies as LGBT, those are the hardest words you’ll ever have to say. They get easier every time you say them, but you never know how people are going to react.”

One of the first people that he opened up to about his sexuality was his best friend of 10 years. After the friend committed suicide in the same summer that Serrott  came out to his family, Serrott said he really began to come to terms with himself as a person.

“That was my first experience with death,” Serrott said. “We went on family vacations together so it was hard for my whole family. I still have times where I grieve from that.”

Four years later, Serrott’s motto is “just keep livin,’” which he got tattooed on his foot after the friend died.

“I use that motto a lot,” Serrott said with a smile. “Sometimes it sounds cheesy, but it reminds me to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.”

Last Spring Semester, Serrott worked 39 hours a week between three jobs, all while being a full-time student. With his grandmother retired and living on a fixed income, Serrott’s multiple jobs are necessary to get him to law school, he said.

Olayemi Olurin, a senior and close friend to Serrott, said he is a hard worker in the classroom and professionally.

“He always has a mountain of new books in his backpack that he’s reading or some event he’s attending,” Olurin said. “He’s very active with race issues and is very self-aware. He didn’t fill out his race on the LSAT because he didn’t want to be privileged for being white.”

When Serrott isn’t working or studying, he’s working with the Students for Law, Justice and Culture organization, or taking his rescue dog Jackson (named after his favorite bar, Jackie O’s) to the park.

Serrott hopes law school will land him in a career where he can tackle civil and human rights or work for a nonprofit.

“(Feminism is about) believing that everybody should be treated like a person,” Serrott said. “I think men need to take more interest in respecting women and all gender issues.”

Photo used with permission from Lexie Erst

Photo used with permission from Lexie Erst

Companion app co-founder speaks on unexpected success

Tricia Richards was in high school walking home from a friend’s house late at night when a group of men began catcalling and harassing her. She had called her mother letting her know she was on her way, but went a different, longer route to avoid the perpetrators.

When she did arrive later than expected, her mother was already beginning to walk out the door to look for her.

If the Companion app had been available at the time and had anything happened, her mother would have been alerted of Richard’s last location to find her.

The first version of Companion, an app designed for friends and family to track someone on their late-night walk home, was released in November of last year. A second version of the app, Companion 2.0, was released a few weeks ago, Lexie Ernst, one of five co-founders of the app, said.

“Companion gives the walker the ability to put the phone in their pocket and focus on the road ahead, be alert, but also have the security of knowing that their friends and family are watching them,” Ernst, now a senior at University of Michigan, said. “If I go off-route or don’t make it to my destination on time, my friends and family will be notified.”

Companion gives the user the ability to pick a person whom they would like to virtually “watch” their walk home. If the user wonders off path, starts to run or has headphones pulled out of the phone, the app is able to detect the change and ask the user if they are OK.

If the user does not respond in 15 seconds, the app sets off a series of noises to scare possible perpetrators away and gives the option to call the police with the tap of a button.

“I’m in the library until 9 or 10 at night and college campuses are notorious for bad things happening late at night,” Richards, now a senior studying wildlife conservation and biology, said. “Even if it’s just a walk to my car, it would immensely calm both my mother and boyfriend, who I know worry about me walking around by myself."

Ernst and the co-founders, all students at University of Michigan and many of them childhood friends, developed the app after they began receiving several e-mail alerts from their campus police of assaults. With knowledge of computer science and some background in how startups work, they formulated their idea and started building the app. Since the newest version was released, Companion has been downloaded more than 600,000 times in the app store. Ernst said their team never expected the app to gain so much traction. 

“The (story) about the app got picked up by Business Insider and that just exploded. We had over 3 million views on it, and it took off from there,” Ernst said. “This was a passion project for all of us, and now it’s turned into a full-time job. It’s exciting.”

At Ohio University, students can use CATS Late Night for free until 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday. The 15-passenger shuttle bus travels across campus and is available to transport students between any two university-affiliated locations. CATS Late Night, formerly TapRide, replaced OU Police Department’s Safe T Patrol, OUPD Lt. Timothy Ryan said in an e-mail, adding that the Companion app sounds like an “interesting idea.”

For students like Richards with a short walk to her car, though, Companion may be the new means of getting safely from place to place. 

“Safety is a huge thing for me,” Richards, who said she will probably use Companion on a regular basis, said. “Especially in college, you would like to think people would never harm you but the reality is, that’s not true.”

Photo credit: Alex Driehaus

Photo credit: Alex Driehaus

 

In Athens, Ohio University students can cause trouble with Court St shuffles

Earlier this month, 50 people entered Lucky’s Sports Tavern, 11 N. Court St., all wearing mustaches.  

The students were on, as those in Athens like to call it, a “Court Street shuffle” — or a bar crawl. As the weather gets warmer, OU students are more frequently taking part in “shuffling,” an activity which consists of a large group of friends attempting to get a drink at every bar within walking distance.

Tuesday evening marked St. Patrick’s Day, and although students had already reveled in the holiday by participating in Green Beer Day last week, some headed to the bars donned in green to shuffle their way through Court Street.

Most bars in Athens, such as Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery, 24 W. Union Street, gladly welcome shufflers.

“It spreads our name; people that maybe didn’t know we were here do now,” said Jess Adami, a bartender at Jackie O’s. “Luckily, we’re (usually) at the beginning of the shuffle so we don’t typically get people that are really inebriated and they can actually be kind of fun.” 

When shufflers are too inebriated, however, they can cause problems and bartenders turn them away. The large nature of the group can also clog up bars for other patrons, said Brent Socie, a bartender at Lucky’s.

“I wouldn’t refuse them because they’re on a shuffle; I’d only refuse it if I can tell I’m one of the last bars and they’ve had too much to drink,” said Socie, who served the group of mustache-themed shufflers.

Shuffles often have themes and costumes. Socie has seen a group of shufflers wearing American flags as togas. Senior Liz Doyle recently went on a shuffle where she and her three roommates wore matching squid hats. Doyle’s group wore t-shirts with every bar listed on the back in Sharpie and crossed off each bar that they bought a signature drink.

Although she only shuffled with a group of four for her recent “squid” shuffle, for her 21st birthday last year, Doyle traveled with a group of 12 to 15 people.

“I noticed we were much more warmly received when there were fewer shufflers this year than when there was a big crowd of us last year,” Doyle said. “Last year, the guys were determined to write on the walls in every bathroom. This year I think we wrote on a couple walls, but it wasn’t a focal point.”

Vandalizing bathrooms is one of the reasons that Casa Cantina refuses service to all shufflers, who often aren’t too happy about being turned away.

“Shufflers have told me they were going to kick my ass if I didn’t get them drinks, which they never do or will,” said Mike Flynn, a bartender at Casa Cantina. “They always try to convince us they’re not on a shuffle which is hysterical because they’re all (usually) wearing the same shirt with the word shuffle written on it.”

Students agree that shuffling can be more appealing than hanging out at one bar for a night because it opens shufflers up to discovering new drinks and meeting new people.

“I had an aquarium at The Pub for the first time on my shuffle. I had no idea what it was before and had never been to The Pub before the shuffle,” said Taylor Wisnieski,who has been on two shuffles.

Doyle suggests that to safely shuffle, people should remember to drink water throughout the night and eat beforehand.  

“Go with a group that will stick together and recruit other friends to meet you halfway to make sure everyone makes it home safely,” Doyle said. “If the signature drinks are big and your group is starting to struggle, split them up.”

Wisneieski, a senior majoring in communication studies, speculated that the grouping of bars in Athens is what prompts shuffling.

“It’s a lot easier to get to all of them than say on OSU’s campus where their bars are more spread out and it takes them longer to complete a shuffle,” she said.

Socie sums up “shuffling” in four words.

“It’s an Athens thing.”

Photo credit: Seth Archer

Photo credit: Seth Archer

GoodFella’s and Big Mamma’s seen as late-night food havens of Athens

Ohio University alumna Alison Grossman said before she graduated in 2014 she would go out three or more times a week. Most of those times – she estimated around 75 percent – she would look forward to ending the night with food.

Grossman isn’t alone in the instinct to head Uptown to fulfill late-night food cravings. GoodFella’s worker Leah Diedrick estimates that more than 90 percent of late-night customers come in drunk.  

Late-night drunk clientele present business opportunities to Uptown eateries that keep their doors open past midnight or later. However, workers have some interesting stories to share about their more-intoxicated customers.

“Most of the time customers aren’t so bad, but we have had someone start to head butt people in line so we had to kick them out,” said Diedrick, a junior studying anthropology. “Another time, someone reached into their bra and tried to pay me with gum. I was like, that’s not money.”

Intoxication can be linked to an increased level of hunger, according to a 2004 study by the University of Liverpool.

Big Mamma’s Burritos manager Levi Bebout said uptown businesses work together to keep the weekenders of Athens fed and happy.

“We’re kind of a band of brothers, the late night eateries,” Bebout said.

Another Big Mamma’s manager Jade Underwood, who estimates about 99 percent of her late-night customers are intoxicated, said she has witnessed everything from drinking from the pop machines without a cup, to stealing stools to even throwing their burritos at workers, she said.

“Someone tried to make their own art on that painting over there,” Vincent Moreland, employee at Big Mamma’s, added from behind the counter as he beckons to framed artwork on the wall. “They took their burrito and like, drew something with the contents of the inside.”  

Shenanigans aside, late night hours come with the promise of increased business.

“When there are thousands of drunk people meandering through the streets, people need food at that hour,” Bebout said. “Our business reflects that.”

Bebout added the eatery, 10 S. Court St., sees its biggest increase of business after midnight.

To speed up delivery time and keep customers from getting rowdy, GoodFella’s, 6 W. Union St., limits its menu on late nights to only offer cheese and pepperoni.

“We need to keep our options limited for drunk people,” Diedrick said.

Tim Buck, a server at Union Street Diner, 70 W. Union St., said in a previous Post articlehe doesn’t mind dealing with intoxicated customers, viewing it as a challenge that allows him to be more personable with patrons.

Uptown Grill — or as it’s affectionately called by patrons, “Chicken-n-Waffles” — sees the majority of its business during prime party nights.

According to manager Kaylee Perkins, the business, located at 11 W. Union St., typically sees 10 times the amount of business on the weekend as they do on weekdays.

“I’ve seen lines down the street... like 30 yards,” Perkins said.

The line isn’t so long, she said, when it’s snowing or raining.

Despite the fact that wait times can be daunting, some look on them as a opportunity; one of Grossman’s favorite memories from her time at OU, she said, was the general camaraderie in the long lines at Big Mamma’s.

Although she said the effects on her body from nights of unhealthy choices were never positive, Grossman added she found ways to make her drunk-binging habit more realistic.

“If I had junk food the night before, I would go and work out the next day to try to balance it out because it adds up quickly,” she said. “By the time I got to my senior year, I was more financially aware of my situation so I would have leftovers from my cooking when I came home.”

Grossman said she doesn’t have a single regret about the high amount of drunk food that she ate in Athens. As she pursues graduate school in Columbia, South Carolina, she is disappointed that the only late-night junk food available is Jimmy John’s.

“Any meals I had in Athens I wouldn’t take back,” she said. “You just can’t go to Wendy’s or the chain restaurants. You have to experience Athens in a full environment, and that is Big Mamma’s and GoodFella’s.”

Photo credit: Olivia Raney

Photo credit: Olivia Raney

Hip-Hop Shop relocates after fire

Hip-Hop Shop organizer Hil Hackworth was only three minutes from home when he was in a car crash that left him immobile for four months.

Last month, he hosted the Hip-Hop Shop for the first time since his accident, during which his ex-girlfriend ran his Honda Civic into a tree. 

It’s not the only challenge the monthly event — which aims to encourage creativity through poetry, performances, dancing and graffiti art — has faced.

The event has, for six of its nine years, been hosted at The Union Bar & Grill, 18 W. Union St.

Now, after the West Union fire, the show will be temporarily held at the Theta Chi Fraternity house, 117 E. State St. 

“As soon as the fire happened, I was getting tons of people messaging me being like ‘Yo, if you need a place for this to continue this can happen,’” Hackworth said. “I think everyone knows how much The Union meant to me and how much the Hip-Hop Shop meant to me. My main focus was to keep the Hip-Hop Shop going.” 

Sam Flynn, president of the Theta Chi Fraternity, a writer for The Athens News and Editor-in-Chief of Interactivist, contacted the event organizers and offered Theta Chi as a temporary home for The Hip-Hop Shop. 

The Hip-Hop Shop hopes to find a permanent home at the beginning of next year. Doors will open Thursday at 9 p.m. at Theta Chi. Donations will benefit The Union.

“The Hip-Hop Shop is a place I was looking for when I came to college. Growing up, I didn’t have any friends I could do that with,” Flynn, who also plans on performing at the event, said. “The extra work (of housing the event) comes with a lot of great music and a great community effort so it all balances out.”

As Hackworth rushes to put together an official benefit concert for The Union in late December, Peter “MC Freeman” Vilardi of Twisted Kids, Thursday’s featured performer, has taken up last-minute re-planning. He was on his way to work at 6 a.m. Sunday when he saw flames overtaking The Union and immediately called Hackworth to offer his help in any way. 

“(At first) I thought, ‘Oh my God, what is going to happen?’ But other than the change in location, it’s going to be business as usual as much as we possibly can,” Vilardi said. “The venue is a little different, the stage is a little different, but at the end of the day it’s the same Hip-Hop Shop and the same spirit of local hip-hop is going to keep this alive.”

Although a change in location comes with modifications — such as not being able to use the Union Bar’s walls for graffiti art as planned — the majority of the events will remain the same. 

“We are anti bullsh-t pop-bubblegum rap you hear on the radio. If you’re trying to rap a song about wanting me to lick your lollipop, get the f--k out of here,” Hackworth said. “We like our music to make you think a little bit more than just ‘move your ass at a party.’ ” 

Hackworth plans to bring this level of hip-hop to the show with his partner in crime, Ryan “Emcee Schwartz” Schwartz. The two founded local rap group DysFunktional Family and plan to perform a number of songs from their past with some solo material to back it. 

Hackworth said his songs are going to be varied — some fun but also reflecting on love, loss and the year of his accident.

Twisted Kids, which is composed of Vilardi and his roommate, Jacob “61ack4eart” Midkiff, will perform the longest set of the night in what Vilardi describes as “old-school hip-hop.”

The show also opens the microphone to anyone who would like to bring original music on a USB drive to perform. But, Hackworth notes that this comes with an understanding that the crowd is serious about performances that takes hip-hop seriously. 

Translation — if you’re bad the crowd will let you know.

“There was tons of college kids that liked to rap about how much money their mom and dad have but there was no place to actually experience real hip-hop,” Hackworth said. “There’s not many places in Athens that give hip-hop a chance because everyone’s afraid of what’s on MTV and BET. That’s why we started Hip-Hop Shop nine years ago — to give hip-hop a real voice in Athens.”

Photo used with permission from Brian Bucher

Photo used with permission from Brian Bucher

Benefit concert for Spinal Muscular Atrophy this Saturday

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge dared people of all ages to pour freezing water on their heads, mimicking the muscle atrophy effects of the neuromuscular disease, ALS. 

On Aug. 23, 10-year-old Adyn Bucher participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge and posted it to Facebook. But unlike the posts many scroll through on their timelines, Bucher wasn’t mimicking these effects of muscle weakness — she lives with them every day.

Adyn, who lives with SMA, has an obsession with music and is tapping into that passion by hosting a benefit concert Saturday at 10 p.m. at Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery, 24 W. Union St.

When Bucher was first born in 2004, she was declared healthy. But after a year, when she wasn’t even crawling yet, her parents decided to have her blood work done at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. 

At 18 months old, she was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type 1, an inherited disease that causes weakened limbs, muscles for swallowing, speech and breathing. Her parents were devastated to find out that most SMA Type 1 patients die by the age of 2.

At age 2, however, she was reevaluated and upgraded to SMA Type 2. Although Type 2 children are stronger, every little sneeze or headache had to be evaluated with caution, and she was still unable to walk or crawl. Unlike most 2-year-olds who learned to cruise and toddle, Adyn needed to be carried everywhere. 

Besides her interests in dolls and playing outside, Adyn also began to develop her love for music at age two. She could belt out every word to the White Album by The Beatles and was an avid lover of The Wiggles. 

It wasn’t all smooth sailing to the smiley, indie-music-loving girl Adyn is today — in June of 2010, Adyn was rushed to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Intensive Care Unit because of dangerously low oxygen saturation levels. After close monitoring for three days, Adyn was lucky to leave the hospital with her life. 

The scare, however, was enough to spearhead the founding of the non-profit Adyn’s Dream last June by her father, Brian. The organization was created to provide assistance to families of children with SMA through the organization CureSMA. Because only one in 10,000 babies are born with SMA and the disease is the leading genetic cause of death of for infants according to CureSMA.org, it isn’t typical to see many “older” kids like Adyn with the disease. 

Unusual for other 10-year-olds, too, is the amount of live music that Adyn has had the opportunity to see. Since birth, Adyn has been to almost 30 concerts and 10-15 music festivals, and has met many artists including Colbie Caillat and one of her favorite bands, The Steel Wheels. Still “pretty high” on her to-meet list is Taylor Swift. 

“Adyn made each member of Steel Wheels roses out of duct tape and carried them around the festival until she saw them and personally handed over their rose to them,” Brian said. “That was one way that she could give something back to them. I’m sure she’s given more back to them than she realizes.”

Saturday’s event will open with a performance by Old Boy, a folk-rock band making a special trip for Adyn to Athens from Cleveland. Although Adyn hasn’t seen Old Boy live, she and her dad have listened to their album countless times. 

Taking the stage at 12 will be the D-Rays, a band Adyn made a special trip to see at the Nelsonville Music Festival last May.  

There will be a raffle for tickets to the Ohio State/Michigan football game in Columbus scheduled for Nov. 29. Additionally, other Athens local shops donated items for raffle, including Import House. 

“Adyn is such a cute girl and really fun to be around,” said Karen McGuire, manager of Import House. “She always has a good time when she comes in the store. (Adyn’s Dream) is a good cause and honestly that family is great.”  

You can donate to Adyn’s Dream or purchase Ohio State/Michigan game raffle tickets to benefit those with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at www.adynsdream.org.

Photo credit: Mingran Ma

Photo credit: Mingran Ma

 

Athens begins to celebrate holiday season

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, or at least that’s what light-decorated speakers were playing when the Athens Uptown Business Association kicked off the annual “Home for the Holidays” Tree Lighting.

Businesses opened their doors to Athens community members Thursday evening to celebrate the start of the holiday season. The event was funded by the Chamber of Commerce.

At 6 p.m., Santa himself climbed out of an Athens fire truck on the corner of Court Street and West Washington Street and made his way to his seat inside 5 N. Court St., where children lined up to take pictures with him.

“It’s always nice when Athens puts together something to include the whole family,” said Mary Marvell, who stood in line with her 4-year-old daughter to talk to Santa.

After getting their picture, Marvell and her daughter made their way down the street, where children were welcomed onto John Hutchison’s horse-drawn carriage. Hutchinson, a retired school teacher, held the reins for a ride around the block.

Hutchison, owner of Hutchison Horsedrawn Wagon & Carriage Service LLC, said the AUBA had been a valuable partner to him in the past when a fire burned down his two barns a few years ago. He lost three of his horses, his wagons and “basically everything horse-related.”

“See those sleigh bells you hear?” Hutchison said as he beckoned to his two sleigh bell-decorated Percheron horses, Dick and Bell, who also had Santa hats perched on tops of their heads. “They were a gift from my friends at AUBA. They sent them to me after the fire. And it makes me feel like tearing up just thinking about it — kids would send me 50 cents in an envelope and say they wanted to help me get more horses.”

Wendy Jakmas, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said she hoped that the event motivated people to do winter shopping in the Uptown businesses.

“It’s a huge collaborative effort and we’re so appreciative of our businesses,” she said. “Our hope is that we can provide nice wholesome family entertainment and in return, people will patronize our businesses. It’s a win-win.”

In addition to being able to get their faces painted at Mountain Laurel Gifts, children could have a free-for-all with sprinkles and decorate cookies at Brenen’s Coffee Cafe.

“I think sometimes Uptown gets a stigma that it’s all just for the college students,” said Josh Thomas, co-owner of Brenen’s. “It’s a way to bring the community back Uptown for a night.”

Dawn Worley-Sims, project manager for Chamber of Commerce, said the event not only gives Athens residents a reason to come Uptown, but also helps college students feel more comfortable in their city.

“We’re really glad that the students are here to really enjoy it too,” she said. “When college students are away from home, we want this to feel like home.” 

Photo credit: Lauren Bacho

Photo credit: Lauren Bacho

International Women’s Day Festival Highlighted Cultural Appreciation

Vendors lined the hallway into Baker Center Ballroom where inside, students and community members joined an Indonesian line dancer in performing a dance native to the country.

This was just one part of the four-hour celebration for the seventh-annual International Women’s Day Festival held Sunday. It featured dances, presentations and performances.

Besides just focusing on women’s empowerment, the festival focused on “women’s experiences around the world and things that are still challenges for women around the world” said Sarah Jenkins, program coordinator of the LGBT and Women’s Center.

“We really want to showcase women,” Jenkins said. “Men can be a part of the event as volunteers or in supporting roles, but we want women to be the main event.”

Cecilia Fernández, a second-year graduate student majoring in communication and development studies, performed a dance from her country, Bolivia, called the Morenada. Fernández sported an elaborate self-embroidered dress, feathered hat and 4-inch heels. To her, performing the dance represented both her femininity and her culture.

“My main thing with coming here was (to show) yes, this is how women dress for this dance and we’re so happy and proud of how we look,” Fernández said. “When I came (to America) I was like, ‘Oh my god, this skirt is too short!’ But then I was like, ‘Oh, you know actually, this represents that you see and you don’t touch.’ ”

In accepting applications for performers, Jenkins said many Americans were unsure of what to put for their nationality.

“The vast majority of Americans put ‘white’ or ‘Caucasian,’ ” Jenkins said. “Everyone who’s not American knows what ‘nationality’ is because they have to answer it all the time. I think that’s a great example of some of the things we want to encourage people to think of when they’re coming to International Women’s Day.”

Kat Wargo, program coordinator of the Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program, had a table with t-shirt decorating, highlighting different types of violence, assault and abuse people had experienced. These shirts will be used in the Athens, Meigs and Perry County Clothesline Project. The organization currently has about 500 shirts that they will hang up in different areas.

“This is just a really good way of being able to show people visually that violence does happen and it’s happening in our backyards and in our communities,” Wargo said.

Another table featured at the celebration was for Pure Romance, a company that holds in-home parties for adult women and sells products designed specifically for women’s sexual health and pleasure. In addition to rash-free shaving cream and lubricants, the company also sells many Fifty Shades of Grey-themed toys, such as paddles and floggers.

“I was very young, I got married and was very fundamentalist. My husband had authority over parts of my body that I didn’t, I had never touched myself because I was told it was dirty,” said Leah Graysmith, advanced consultant with Pure Romance. “It’s about being able to say what you like and what you want and having a network of communication for that. It’s empowering in that it’s giving women so many options and permission to explore without shame.”

Photo Credit: Alex Driehaus

Photo Credit: Alex Driehaus

New LGBT-friendly lecture offered this year to help better train OU medical students

Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine students are brought into a room with an LGBTQ-identified individual and told to ask all of the wrong questions.

However, this is all so that they don’t make the same mistakes when they are professionals in the medical field.

Eleven years ago, only one two-hour LGBTQ Health and Wellness Lab was taught at OUHCOM, Dr. Jane Balbo of Campus Care said in an email.

Now, OUHCOM is taking steps to help doctors better understand and treat LGBTQ patients.

The most recent addition is a one-hour lecture called “Providing Primary Care To Transgender Patients,” which was implemented this year. The lecture was incorporated into the obstetrics and gynecology course, which is taken by students in the Clinical Presentation Continuum, who represent about three-fourths of OUHCOM’s students.

Dr. Katy Kropf at University Medical Associates and Balbo created this after they were invited to give a lecture on the topic at the American Medical Student Association’s Annual Conference.

“In medicine in general, the importance of all physicians providing quality care to transgender patients is being recognized more and more each day,” Balbo said in an email. “We recognized this as a need that could be filled by our curriculum.”

Delfin Bautista, LGBT Center director, and Susan Young, who leads the Spectrum support group for gender non-conforming people, helped faculty develop a one-day, two-hour class within the clinical skills course about LGBT Health and Wellness lab, Balbo said in an email. The material that was once taught primarily in 2011 is now the preparatory work for the lab.

In the class, students interview LGBT individuals about their life experiences in health care, Balbo said in an email.

“I’ve never really had too much exposure with trans people, and that health and wellness lab was really eye-opening to me in terms of what the trans community goes through,” said Alison Brittain, an OUHCOM student in her second year. “You want to ask, ‘Are you in a relationship?’ not ‘Do you have a boyfriend or girlfriend?’ It gives them comfort that even if they are transgender, that that’s OK with me.”

During this training, medical students are taught how to speak respectfully regarding gender and sexual orientations. Students are taught to ask patients for a preferred name, pronouns and gender identity.

Brittain said she has witnessed hostile attitudes toward the LGBT community from doctors at one of the local hospitals she had shadowed, overhearing someone voicing disagreement with gay marriage.  

“The idea of being a doctor is being able to medically help people in the best way that we possibly can. A lot of that has to do with making the patient feel that they can talk to you,” Brittain said.

Brittain said branching out in her knowledge and interactions with LGBTQ identities has helped in her learning process.

 “I know a trans woman who is transitioning now from male biologically and talking to her has been a really big step forward for me in terms of understanding and becoming fluid in terms of pronouns,” Brittain said.

Bautista said that while steps have been taken in the right direction as far as training on LGBTQ issues in the medical sphere, there is still a long way to go.  

“Negative experiences of coming out within a health care setting may completely stop a person from going to the doctor ever again just because they had a very negative experience,” Bautista said. “As much as we may not want to, we all have to go to the doctor eventually, and hopefully we can make it as comfortable as we can.”

The two classes are not the only LGBT training that OUHCOM students are taught. Some material is taught through specific instances of “cases,” or patients who present with specific medical concerns, many of which include LGBT patients.

Additionally, two lectures are given in the first year on “taking a sexual history” during which issues of sexual orientation and gender identity are addressed, Balbo said in an email.

“They’re students, and it’s an opportunity for them to learn and make mistakes in a safe way so that hopefully when they are in real practice they know better,” Bautista said. “We hopefully want to really try to infuse what it means to provide good health care to all people throughout the entire curriculum.”  

Photo Credit: Kaitlin Owens

Photo Credit: Kaitlin Owens

 

Writers try to sidestep stereotypes when writing LGBT characters

Catherine Weingarten, a first-year graduate student pursuing a master’s of fine arts in playwriting, draws from her own personal experience in her work.

Weingarten questioned her sexuality as an undergrad and described herself as having a lot of gay friends, which led her to become curious about life experiences and issues in the LGBT community.

“I thought, ‘What would that be like (to be gay)?’” she said. “I was sort of obsessed with that question, and I wanted to explore it in my play.”

A short play of Weingarten’s, “You Looked Hot When You Stole that Dress from Walmart,” premiered in New York at the Fresh Fruit Festival, an event that celebrates LGBTQ arts and culture. The play explores LGBT relationships and female experiences.

Writing LGBT characters can be a tricky process, said Delfin Bautista, the director of Ohio University’s LGBT Center. Bautista added that although non-LGBT writers can sometimes perpetuate stereotypes when writing for queer lives on stage or in movies, especially in comedy, it is still possible when done right.

“No one depiction or representation is going to capture everybody, but just try to learn and inhabit those shoes as best as one can,” Bautista said. “There are things that I can joke about that non-LGBT people cannot joke about, similar (to how) there are things a Latino can joke about that non-Latinos cannot joke about. Where the line is drawn is anyone’s guess, we are all trying to figure out where that line is.”

Weingarten said she tries to avoid being cliché in the storylines for her LGBT characters.

“There’s a lot of corny plays that are coming-out plays,” Weingarten said. “I have a lot of friends that are gay and they’ll see those plays and say, ‘Why are the only gay characters representing such a big problem? They’re gay, and everyone’s crying.’”

Most of Weingarten’s plays are comedic. LGBT characters aren’t hard to find in comedies. Out of the 102 films GLAAD analyzed, the most common place to find LGBT characters in the major studios’ 2013 releases were in comedies, according to the organization’s Studio Responsibility Index.

GLAAD found that 16.7 percent of all the films it analyzed contained LGBT characters, but 42.1 percent of comedies did.

LGBT characters have also made their way into mainstream media, with shows such as Modern Family. Bautista said the sitcomhas, for the most part, portrayed the gay community in a non-stereotypical fashion.

“Cameron is a big guy. Mitchell is not a body builder. Physically, they broke a lot of stereotypes,” Bautista said. “Also that they’re a couple that want to have a family. (It is interesting how they are) exploring what it means to their careers and being a parent.”

Madeleine Olnek, who visited the Women’s Center last week to workshop with students, has written five films involving LGBT characters. One of her films, The Foxy Merkins, was shown at the Athens International Film + Video Festival last week and is also available for live streaming on Netflix.

“Things (in the LGBT community) change so much from year to year in a way that’s just shocking,” Olnek said at the workshop. “If you’re trying to write and you’re writing in a way where there’s a point you’re trying to make to the audience, by the time your play or movie is finished, that point may no longer need to be made.”

Olnek, Bautista and Weingarten all agreed that while queer comedy is challenging, it is important to be able to laugh at oneself.

“So much queer stuff can often feel really serious,” said Sarah Jenkins, program director of the Women’s and LGBT centers. “That is also important, but it’s also important to laugh.”

Photo Credit: Alex Driehaus

Photo Credit: Alex Driehaus

Athens local restaurants limited by small seating capacity

Hannah Raines, who is from Athens, doesn’t usually have to wait for a table at Casa Nueva, 6 W. State St., but during Ohio University’s Parents Weekend it was a different story.

“We had to wait an hour to get seated, then it also took like an hour to get my food once we sat down,” said Raines, who is a freshman studying psychology.

However, this isn’t just a problem during university-sponsored event weekends. Many Athens venues face a lack of seating space for patrons, resulting in longer wait times.

For example, Casa Nueva has 17 tables total in the restaurant, six of which are “little teeny ones” that only fit two people, said Casa marketing coordinator Grace Corbin. On any given Friday around 6 p.m., visitors can often expect a wait time of two hours, and during weeknights, she said, there is usually a short wait at one point or another.  

“We don’t take reservations at all. We only have one phone line, and if we took reservations, we wouldn’t be able to take as many carry out orders,” Corbin said. “We don’t want to have empty tables sitting for too long, so not taking reservations allows us to have a higher turnover.”

In August, Corbin said Casa would close to the public for a few days to “hopefully” do a first-phase renovation to expand seating. The Casa team has talked about adding longer benches along both walls and a series of tables that can easily be pushed together and pulled apart. Adding any more than four additional tables would require an entire restaurant expansion, Corbin said.

“Even if we had more seating, it would lead to people waiting longer for their food because we only have (space for) two ovens,” Corbin said.

After the Cantina’s expansion in 2003 from eight tables to about 20, more customers were willing to wait for their tables because there was a place to grab a drink, Corbin said.

“If a party of two comes in for a date and we tell them a half hour, we guide them to grab an appetizer in the Cantina while they wait,” Corbin, who also works in the restaurant as a server and hostess, said. “It helps to distract people from the wait time rather than awkwardly waiting outside or by the door.”

Sol, 33 N. Court St., does not have a storefront, making it hard to attract customers. The restaurant also lacks a designated waiting area to keep them there. The restaurant can seat up to 50 people, and, because of its small kitchen space, it closes from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. every day, said Todd Wilson, owner of Sol.

“I turn away probably 1,000 people a year because I can’t physically fit them,” Wilson said. “We’d like to find a larger space with more seating and a larger kitchen.”

Wilson notes that the nature of the Athens community makes it difficult to predict the flow of business. Sol closes on the day of the annual HallOUween block party because most people are “interested in partying.”

“You cannot apply a standard business model to operating a business (Uptown),” Wilson said.

Similar to Sol, Union Street Diner’s, 70 W. Union St., busiest hours are during weekend brunch. And similar to Casa, any expansion in its dining area would also require a kitchen expansion. Despite the fact that the restaurant can seat 82 to 92 people, said George Young, general manager of Union Street Diner, they had to put customers on a five-hour wait during brunch time of Sibs Weekend this year.

“During busy weekends we stop taking take-out orders entirely because just handling the business in the restaurant itself is almost more than we can handle,” Young said. “It’s often night time third shift when bars are closing out that we get busier.”

Photo Illustration: unknown 

Photo Illustration: unknown 

Dress codes force women to worry about being sexualized at school and work

On a hot day in April 2014, about 30 boys — mostly seniors — walked into Athens High School wearing a little less than they had the day before.

The boys wore above-the-knee–length shorts in response to an idea that was posted on the AHS Class of 2014 Facebook page by then-senior Devon Halliday. 

“In light of (the) announcement today that ‘ladies’ will be sent home if their shorts are too short, I vote that all the guys come in tomorrow wearing short-shorts,” Halliday, now a sophomore at Brown University, posted on the page the night before. 

“That’s an absolutely fantastic idea,” someone commented on her post. 

“So I know what I’m doing to an old pair of jeans tonight,” another responded. 

And so began the short-shorts revolution at Athens High School. 

Although the movement may have started as a “senior prank with a gender equality twist,” as one person described on the post, Halliday said she wrote it because she was frustrated that the administration’s announcement targeted girls. 

“Getting sent home and scolded for your wardrobe was something (girls) had to think about. It was an annoying thing to try to consider in the morning when I’m trying to get dressed,” Halliday, who studies comparative literature, said. “Administration took it very lightly. A couple guys might have been told to change, but none of them were sent home.” 

One of the seniors who participated in the prank by wearing short corduroy cutoffs, Sam McGee, said the prank was intended to be funny, but people thought of it as a political statement after it was over. 

“In hindsight, it kind of makes a statement because they didn’t really punish (the boys) or discipline us in any way,” McGee, now a sophomore at Ohio University studying wildlife and conservation biology, said. “I think, in a sense, the dress code (was gendered) because guys are less likely to wear really short clothing. I think a lot of dress codes are more geared towards women.” 

Dress codes aren’t only prevalent in high school. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, during the 2009 to 2010 school year, 57 percent of public schools enforced a “strict dress code.” More often in Athens’ middle school than in high school, McGee recalled girls being “shirted,” or forced to wear an oversized T-shirt if they wore a top exposing their shoulders. 

“Generally it’d be girls, because most guys weren’t wearing tank tops,” McGee said. “You could tell if someone got shirted because they’d be wearing some sort of funky white gym shirt that no one would wear. It was always too big.” 

In 2011 to 2012, 19 percent of public schools required student uniforms, and many more private schools required uniforms, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Sophomore Emily Swanson graduated from Stephen T. Badin, a Catholic high school in Hamilton, Ohio, and said she often received demerits for violations of the dress code, whether that was for facial piercings, hair color or hemming her uniformed skirt too short. 

“We’d have to kneel down on the ground and put a soda can underneath our skirt and if our skirt didn’t touch the rim of the soda can, we either got sent home or we got demerits,” Swanson, who studies communication, said. “They’d be like, ‘Oh you’re going to distract the boys,’ and I was like, ‘That’s not my problem. It’s not interfering with their education. It’s interfering with mine when you call me out in class, send me to the office and make me go home.’ ” 

Many administrators use the reasoning that if a girl wears too short of shorts or exposes too much of her shoulders, her body could potentially be a distraction to male students. That reasoning is problematic when it comes to solving gender inequality, Sarah Jenkins, program coordinator of the Women’s Center, said. 

“(It is rooted in the idea) that the other people in school, generally boys, are somehow unable to control themselves around women’s bodies,” Jenkins said. “Dress codes take time out of girls’ education to fix clothing to ‘supposedly’ make boys more comfortable. Although it is boys that are supposedly distracted, it is girls that must leave school to change their clothing ... and girls start learning it in fourth grade when they are told not to wear spaghetti straps.” 

Jenkins said when administrators argue that a dress code policy is “gender neutral” or uses language such as “no one” instead of specifying to women, it’s important to see that the issue isn’t that cut and dry. 

“If you think the dress code is gender neutral, ask yourself: Why is it that this is applying more to girls than boys? If it’s the way that women's clothing is made, that’s something to think about on a larger scale,” Jenkins said. “There is this villainization of women who conform to the standards of beauty that society sets for them.We do everything in our power to look a certain way, but then women are criticized for looking too feminine and are not taken seriously because of it.”

The problems go beyond spaghetti straps in fourth grade.

Dean of Students and Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Jenny Hall-Jones said she never experienced sexism directed at her until she became a dean of students.

Hall-Jones recalled a presentation she made as as interim dean in the summer of 2012. The presentation was one used by Ryan Lombardi, former vice president for Student Affairs who had previously been dean of students. Using a live Twitter feed behind her just as Lombardi had, Hall-Jones said students tweeted that her outfit looked like she should be in The Wizard of Oz

Hall-Jones said another student tweeted, “Does anyone else want to bang her?”

“I was angry, but what I started doing is I started not wearing skirts. I started not wearing anything that had any bright colors in it, and I started wearing suits,” she said. “It wasn’t until the whole next year that I was like, ‘Why did I let that happen?’ I let that experience change who I was. So what I try to do now is dress a little bit more ‘me.’ I dress professionally in my way and feel comfortable in my own skin.”

The line between dressing in a feminine or sexual manner and dressing to look more masculine is a hard line to decipher, according to Cynthia Anderson, associate professor of sociology. She added that any time a woman is entering a male-dominated field, whether she conforms to gender norms, it is often a no-win situation.

“Women spend more time saying, ‘Am I going to be perceived as overly sexual with this outfit? Is this outfit going to send the wrong message?’ ” Anderson, who has studied the connections between women and occupations and has written published work about the pay gap, said. “Men don’t think that way, and that’s because of our culture and the relationship between men and women in our culture.”

Anderson said she finds jobs that keep uniform standards the same or similar, such as nurses and doctors or serving positions, actually can be helpful to women because that way, they don’t have to worry whether they’re dressing in a way that is or isn’t sexual. 

Swanson, however, disagreed. Although she hesitated to call school uniforms sexist, she acknowledged the strict gender roles that come into play with uniformity. 

“The guys at my school had really strict hair requirements — they couldn’t have long hair. I get that they want to make everybody equal, but we’re not all equal,” Swanson said. “We’re different. It’s stamping out individuality, and I don’t see what the benefit of it is for us to all look the same.”

Photo Credit: Kaitlin Owens

Photo Credit: Kaitlin Owens


Trans Education Week to be held in line with International Trans Remembrance Day

Just because Ohio University's LGBT Center will host Trans Education Week with the theme of "Transforming OUr Dialogue," that doesn't mean the conversation will stop at the end of the week.

“I capitalized the OU as a way of signaling we need to shift the conversation on campus to be inclusive of trans people,” delfin bautista, director of the LGBT Center, said. “The goal is we don’t want this to be the only time that trans identities are discussed. It is an opportunity to discuss the realities of trans people, but with a mindfulness that we will also discuss trans folk throughout the rest of the year.”

The week, formerly known as Trans Empowerment Week, will feature events ranging from discussions about identity, film screenings and a Trans Remembrance Vigil.

On Monday, Michelle Vaughn, an associate professor of psychology at University of Mount Union, will hold a workshop about identity and discussion of trans people as “superheroes.”

Later in the day, trans activist JAC Stringer will hold a workshop in the Multicultural Center about gender and societal recognition.

The LGBT Center will hold a free lunch Tuesday along with a discussion with Dr. Jane Balbo of Campus Care. Last year, a one-hour lecture called, “Providing Primary Care To Transgender Patients” was implemented into the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s curriculum, according to a previous Post report.

“I’m looking forward to discussions,” bautista, who uses they/them pronouns and prefers the lowercase spelling of their name, said. “Historically, trans people have been left out of the conversation, so it’s a way of introducing resources to trans students who may not be mindful of the resources they have access to.”

Wednesday’s events include a free lunch and discussion on trans identities and sexual violence, featuring the Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program at 12 p.m. Additionally, the LGBT Center will hold a screening of Paris Is Burning, a documentary focusing on drag queen house cultures in New York City, at 5 p.m.

On Thursday, the center will hold a Trans Remembrance Vigil on College Green. The vigil overlaps with the International Transgender Day of Remembrance. After the vigil, there will be a debrief at Galbreath Chapel at 7 p.m.

At the event, names of trans individuals who have died in the past year will be read, Sarah Jenkins, program coordinator for the LGBT Center, said.

“Across the country, we have an epidemic right now of trans women of color being murdered,” Jenkins said. “It’s staggering, the numbers, and it’s heartbreaking. I think it’s incredibly important that we’re saying those names, that we’re not letting them go by without being recognized.”

LGBT Center staff member Sarah Grote, who prefers they/them pronouns, added that the vigil is generally the most powerful event of Trans Education Week.  

“That’s always a really powerful emotional event that hits home for people,” Grote, a senior studying recreation management, said. “It’s a very serious problem in the LGBT community.”

Although in past years, the week usually ended with the trans remembrance vigil, bautista said this year they will continue the trans education with a screening of Riot Acts in the LGBT Center at 4 p.m.

“A lot of folks have been like, ‘Oh you all can get married (now), that’s it,’ ” bautista said. “Trans people need protections, gay, lesbian, bisexual people need additional protections, and so, it’s a way of keeping the conversation going as well as lifting up a community that has traditionally been neglected.”

Photo Credit: Sean Wolfe 

Photo Credit: Sean Wolfe 

Vigil held in honor of International Transgender Day of Remembrance

Outside the Galbreath Chapel, LGBT staff member Ryan Lovingood gave slips of paper to each person entering. The slips contained the names of transgender individuals who have been murdered across the world — most within the past year.

About 80 people gathered for the International Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil in the chapel at 8 p.m. Thursday.

The event was one of many in honor of Trans Education Week, which began Monday.

“We’re handing (the papers) out because everyone deserves to be known, spoken for and remembered,” Lovingood, a second year graduate student studying financial economics, said. “I really hope that people come here and see that the slips of paper I have in my hand are too many to count and recognize that this is an ongoing issue.”

The vigil opened with words from delfin bautista, director of the Ohio University LGBT Center.

“We are thrivers,” bausita, who uses they/them pronouns and lowercase spelling of their name, said at the event. “We thrive as activists, people who bind, people who express gender through makeup, affirm pronouns as a part of identity, stride with pride in the face of slurs on Court Street.”

After bautista's speech, Title IX, a student-led soprano/alto a cappella group, performed a cappella versions of a number of songs including Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek,” Jason Derulo’s “Whatcha Say” and Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful.”

After the performance, bautista opened the microphone to anyone who wanted to share stories, essays or poetry.

About 10 people took the microphone. People performed slam poetry, shared poems and read personal stories about their experiences coming out as LGBT.

“I came out about two years ago,” Tiifany Anderson, who is a transgender woman and a freshman studying computer science, said. “It’s really been a struggle with my parents because they’re still trying to accept that, … finding a space where I feel safe and comfortable at, that’s been a struggle for me.”

After the open microphone, members of the audience read the names and information about the transgender person who was killed on their slip. They then placed the slips in a container at the front of the room and took an electric candle with them to their seat. Many of the slips of paper included the ways in which transgender individuals were killed, which ranged from death by stab wounds and gunshots to police beatings.

After bautista spoke a few more words about the vigil, the chapel chanted “Trans Lives Matter.” After the vigil, all were invited into the basement for refreshments.

Fox Alexander, a sophomore studying English, came to the event as a trans individual to show solidarity and said they were happy about the turnout.

“A lot of people cried. That’s not a good thing, but it meant that the people felt comfortable enough to elicit emotional responses, which is really important,” Alexander, who prefers they/them pronouns, said. “The number of people that showed up was really good in my opinion because it showed to queer people in the audience and all around that there is friendship here, there is solidarity.”