By Natalie Colonna
CUAllies, a group of Catholic University students that identify as members or allies of the LGBTQ community, are not recognized by the administration as an official student organization. This year, despite the lack of student organization recognition or access to university funding, CUAllies is updating their agenda and choosing to spread the message of love to the whole campus.
“This year we want this organization to be less of something political. It’s just about spreading love and educating the community,” said Liz Hurley, junior psychology major and CUAllies Community Outreach Coordinator.
In 2008, students at The Catholic University of America wearing CUAllies t-shirts stood in the Pryzbyla Center on the third floor overlooking the banister, declaring a need for LGBTQ recognition on campus. The small group of students assembled that day initiated a decade-long movement asking members of the campus to acknowledge the LGBTQ community and make them feel welcome.
“Since my freshman year at this university, there has been such a huge growth and progression in this organization,” said Adriana Penafiel, senior psychology major and CUAllies President. “Catholic University is becoming much more accepting and people may not even be noticing it.”
Catholic has been making a positive transformation with its relationship to the on-campus LGBTQ community. For several years, CUAllies students have shown a desire to create a healthy campus environment that fosters all students. In light of the recent political discussion on transgender rights and the coverage of Matthew Shepard’s remembrance service, CUAllies aims to make all students feel loved and accepted on campus.
“In my social work classes we are taught how important it is to stand up and care for vulnerable populations,” said Raquel Garcia-Geary, a sophomore social work student. “CUAllies has helped me and so many others remember that we have the right to call this campus our home.”
CUAllies holds their bi-weekly meetings in the Office of Campus Activities. This year they have consistently hosted 20-25 students each meeting, as well as participated in many on-campus events such as Cardinal Cookout, Coffee & Donut Hour with College Dems, and Halloween on Campus. Next semester the group plans to continue to educate and advocate for the LGBTQ community through the return of “In Their Own Words,” a panel discussion with LGBTQ identifying students.
“Just like any club, we are a part of this Catholic University community. We want to get more engaged with the community and become less distant, less separate, and less ‘other,’” said Joe Rose, a junior English major and CUAllies Vice President.
This year CUAllies is not planning to re-apply for official student organization recognition. This decision is still up for discussion, but in the meantime the group is asking for continued support from their peers.
“We are fighting for something that is so important and is integral to our identity and it is obvious to see that passion and drive in the people of this organization,” Penafiel said.
Catholic University LGBTQ Resources:
CUAllies meets every other Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. in Pryz 202.
Mosaic meets every Thursday at 5:10 p.m. in the Counseling Center.
“Wonderfully Made” RENEW Group meets every Monday at 8:00 p.m. in Caldwell 154.