By John Connolly
The unofficial organization, CUAllies, held its first meeting of the year last Monday, November 9, at the Barnes & Noble Café on Monroe Street.
President Briana Bee, Vice President Stephen Morris, and Communications Director Bryn Molloy began the meeting by reading the group’s updated mission statement.
CUAllies, which was originally founded in 2009, “seeks to aide in the creation of a respectful, compassionate, and understanding community at CUA by providing resources, a safe environment, and a voice for LGBTQIA+ students on campus… It presents us with the ability to set an example for the rest of the world. We want CUA to be the example.”
The mission also takes note of the University’s location in our nation’s capital.
During the meeting, which was attended by over 30 students, faculty, and staff, the members discussed the group’s history and future goals.
CUAllies had applied twice previously for recognition as a student organization from the University. In both instances, approval was not granted.
Morris acknowledged that this summer both he and the other board members worked to “make [CUAllies] a new entity.”
“We started from the ground up: we made a new logo, a new mission statement, created an executive board, and doubled the social media following” said Morris. “We’re working very hard to make this something that exists on-campus and that is legitimate.”
The group feels that both the society and the views of the Catholic Church have changed since the previous recognition attempts were made.
“Now, every state has marriage equality. And Pope Francis has changed the conversation immensely in the church” noted Morris.
Groups who seek recognition as an organization on campus can apply at the beginning of each semester.
Bee explained that while CUAllies would like to apply for recognition in January, they will wait until May.
“We just felt that [January] was too soon,” said Bee. “We wouldn’t have had enough meeting and enough events. So by setting the timeline to May, we can get the momentum going and get more people involved.”
As a result of the Armstrong Amendment, enacted in October of 1988, universities in Washington D.C. were able to deny recognition of any group or movement that violated the religious affiliation of the school.
Although the amendment was repealed this past may, Morris said he hopes that group will show its support though community support.
“We’re of the belief we will be a much stronger organization if we come into existence if we come into by students and faculty sitting down and talking to reach an agreement about us existing,” said Morris. “We don’t want a court to come in and say, ‘this is what should happen.’”
Molloy, who handles communications and public relations, said the group has reached out to other schools in the area.
“We’re working on becoming a part of a larger part of DC schools working on LGTBQIA+ advocacy,” said Molloy.
According to Bee, various speakers have reached out to CUAllies about hosting events. The organization also wants to urge for more sensitivity training for students and residence life staff.
“We don’t have that training here…we want to make [training] something that the administration will really consider,” said Bee.
Emphasis was also placed on having groups available in the counseling office that specifically handle students struggling with sexual and gender identity.
Molloy explained that the overall goal of CUAllies was to ensure that the University “is aware that these people do exist and that the do go to this university and they deserve to have the same type of introduction and community respect that any other student here does.”
Students who attended the meeting felt that is was a great success.
Freshmen Caroline Riley and Camryn Shegogue both felt the meeting was incredibly inspiring. “I absolutely loved it…. I really hope that CUAllies gets to be recognized,” said Riley.
Shegogue said she felt “really proud that we’ve already come this far.”
Junior Quinn O’Brien said, “I think with the leadership they have now, they can really gain the traction among students. I think we saw that there is a lot of support from the ‘In Their Own Words’ event last week.”
CUAllies plans on holding its next meeting sometime in late November or early December.