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By Erick Wood (@GrahamWoodMedia ) , Utah Statesman, Tuesday, September 11, 2018
LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, allies, plus) students and allies at Utah State University who previously attended weekly club meetings in the Access and Diversity center will now be known under a new name for the 2018-2019 school year.
Previously known as L.I.F.E. (Love is for Everyone) the club will now go by the USU Queer Student Alliance in an effort to better encompass and describe the values of members of the community.
“The biggest thing that I want to shift away from is that we aren’t just a club,” said Jaime Soule, the president of the organization. “Our goal now is to work to facilitate an environment for the LGBTQIA+ community to feel safe on campus. It’s about educating and reclaiming the word queer. Our main goals are going to be outreach and inclusiveness.”
Kayla Ruud, the vice president of the organization, said she and her fellow officers decided that a big focus this year was inclusivity.
“Our first step was to change the club name because we felt it better described our club, was more inclusive and also had a focus on ally-ship,” Ruud said.
Ruud said she has been in the club since fall 2017 and before joining, had no connections to the LGBTQIA+ community and no friends that were queer.
“Once I started attending meetings, I was able to learn more about the community and made a really amazing group of friends very quickly,” Ruud said. “I want all new members and any students interested in joining to know that we want QSA to be a safe space for people of any gender or sexuality, including allies. I’m always open to talk to anybody that is struggling or just simply needs someone to listen,” Ruud added. “I want this year to be amazing for our current and new members. So, if anyone feels like they aren’t accepted in the community but want to be a part of the club, please contact me and we will make sure that you do.”
Soule has big plans for the organization including a rotating schedule that allows for weeks focusing on education, open communication, community service and a monthly activity.
“It’s really queer hyphen students, not just queer students,” Soule said. “We want to build an alliance and try to bridge that gap.”
Freshman Cale Orwig recently moved to Logan from Salt Lake City and said that he is openly gay. He told his dad first because he didn’t live with him and then he told his mom second, because if she rejected him then he “could just move in with (his) dad.”
Now, living on campus in a dorm with straight roommates, he said he is searching for that community here at USU.
“All this moving around and relationship changes, I think has just made me more mature and coming out as gay, I feel like I’ve become more confident and I do things that I don’t think that three years ago I would have done,” Orwig said.
He adds that he is excited about the inclusiveness of the clubs on campus.
The USU Queer Student Alliance has a Facebook page and multiple events coming up including a Rainbow Ball, LGBT History Month, National Coming Out Day, Transgender Day of Remembrance and more. Their opening social was held at Adam’s park and had a record number of people in attendance. The group will meet every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the MSS lounge on the third floor of the TSC.