Undergraduate Student Government’s General Assembly passed a resolution suggesting all resident advisors be Safe Zone-trained and added an emissary seat for international students at their penultimate meeting of the semester Wednesday.
Safe Zone Training
Safe Zone training is a national project available to the university through the Multicultural Center. According to the Multicultural Center’s website, the project “aims to create a more welcoming and more inclusive campus environment, to strengthen community and to encourage networking among faculty, staff and students toward the goal of supporting the diverse individuals and communities with minorized sexual and/or gender identities.”
The resolution, passed Wednesday, called for all RAs to go through the training prior to interacting with the students on their floors.
“We found a gap in safety for students because not every LGBT student has a resident advisor who knows about LGBT issues or is comfortable advocating for that student who needs help,” Ose Arheghan, co-sponsor of the resolution and LGBT+ emissary seat holder, said. “We have these wonderful RA’s who haven’t been given the tools to really serve all the students in their constituency. This resolution fills that gap.”
Arheghan said while RAs are required to go through Open Doors training, an anti-bias program, there is no LGBTQ specific training. They said Safe Zone training will focus on the much-needed education of what it means to identify as LGBTQ and how they, as RAs, can be an advocate for those students in their constituencies.
The resolution also stated that after completing the training, RAs will be provided an Ohio State Safe Zone decal to display. The decal is not a symbol of an LGBTQ community identifier, but rather those that support the needs of others and are willing to learn about issues related to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.
USG senators discussed how they felt encouraged by statistics provided in the resolution about the implementation of Safe Zone training at other college campuses. One of these being California State University Northridge, who reported that 91 percent of Safe Zone participants believe it reduces anti-LGBTQ bias.
International Student Emissary Seat
A motion to add an emissary seat dedicated to international students was passed with unanimous consent. The introduction of this emissary seat, like the LGBT+ emissary seat, will not provide the international student holding the seat with voting rights in USG’s General Assembly, but will allow for their issues to be heard more.
“By having an additional emissary seat, whether its voting or not, is getting that voice into the chamber when it comes to debating resolutions and also prompting them as well,” said USG senator and RA Cade Santha, who proposed the international student emissary seat. “I think it is really necessary to bring as many voices of the populations that aren’t in this chamber so we can better serve all students on campus and a huge portion of that population that we are missing are international students.”
The application for the international student emissary seat will launch before winter break and will appointed in the spring semester.