West Liberty embraces diversity, safe zone training 

By Maria Kimble, Contributing Writer
The West Liberty University community had the opportunity to learn about diversity through Safe Zone Training in late February. WLU Highlands Campus Manager Sara Sweeney organized training sessions to create a campus community that ensures everyone is treated with respect. WLU staff and students learned about the LGBTQ+ community and how to be supportive. 

The event stirred a lot of interest on campus with a result of over 160 participants over the course of three training sessions. The students learned about basic information as well as the challenges the LGBTQ+ community faces.  
This allowed students the opportunity to ask questions about the community in a judgement free atmosphere. The presenter, West Liberty alumnus Andrew Lewis, explained the differences between gender identity, expression, and sexuality. 
“Participants gained terminology knowledge and shared their impressions, experiences, and learned how to be an ally as well as gained information on additional resources,” Sweeney said. She also ensures students that the campus and community Diversity Team is working to plan future events.  
Lewis discussed different terms and scenarios on how to better understand and be able to help someone that is part of the LGBTQ+ community. Lewis talked about different stories and how there are many terms that others should be aware of. This will help students connect with people of the community to know what they are going through. 
“I think this all is important to the WLU community because we are such a loving, accepting group and there’s a place for everyone here,” West Liberty junior Adam Croasmun said. “If we all better understand more diverse groups of people that are part of the Hilltopper family, then we become better every time! WL is such an amazing family of students, faculty, and staff. I’m proud that we all embrace the differences in each other.”
The safe zone training means a lot to the diverse groups on campus. “I’m not one who tries to push my views on others and make them accept me, but what I want is for people to better understand myself as well as the amazing, loving community I’m a part of,” Croasmun said. 
Students are looking forward to other events on campus from the Community Diversity Team. “I strongly believe this should be continued on campus because it is such a beneficial program,” Croasmun explained. “I want everyone on campus to see the differences in others and embrace them with loving arms.” 
Photo credit: Megan Sayre