Students at Walsh University in Ohio — a Catholic institution — have been waiting nearly four months for approval of a new LGBT+ student club at the school, a process which often takes less than two weeks.
The proposal for the club — a safe space for LGBTQIA+ students their allies to openly discuss topics and initiatives relevant to the community — was drafted last May by Kaylyn Liossis and Hannah McFeeters, two seniors who identify, respectively, as pansexual/queer and an ally.
“The club has just been the leading ask by LGBTQ+ students because it would mean, finally, that the university acknowledged them as people that deserve recognition, that deserve acknowledgment, that deserve protection and that deserve representation,” said McFeeters.
Spectrum News reported that school policy requires at least 15 students to be interested in joining before approving a new club. The Oasis Club now has more than 50 students interested in joining once administration approves the proposal.
However, the inordinate waiting period has sparked conjecture, since new club applications are said to be processed within 10 days, according to the school.
Vice president for Student Affairs Bryan Badar said that the proposal has been processed and is sitting in the Student Affairs office for review.
“The message that I really want to send to students is that we care No. 1, that we want them to feel connected, we want them to feel supported. We realize there may be frustrations with the way this process is going, but we want to bring as many people to the table as possible to engage in the conversation because we are committed to making sure we can support all of our students,” said Badar.
Unity at Walsh
The Ohio-based university recently started “Walsh United,” a campus initiative to bolster diversity and inclusion. Walsh President Tim Collins emailed students on July 16 to announce specific actions to be taken as part of the initiative.
These include creating focus groups for open discussion, establishing a committee consisting of members from all affinity groups, and meeting with students, including those from the LGBTQ+ community, to know what support is needed.
Badar admitted that the university remains unsure if LGBTQ+ students can have a recognized club, especially since it does not align with Catholic faith and values.
“That’s what we’re discussing right now. You know, so again, the answer is not a yes, it’s not a no, but we are looking for a solution that will best serve our students and honor our commitment to aligning with Catholic teachings and our mission,” said Badar.
But students feel as if they have waited long enough.
“If it’s a no, we can start working in other directions on how to uplift this group,” said McFeeters. “And if it’s a yes, then we can get to work.