The PRIDE of the Hilltop: West Liberty relaunches student LGBTQ+ club

Among all the woes of the world experienced during this seemingly endless pandemic, so too have we seen a recent flourishing of multiple human rights and equality campaigns and communities. All notions of the current political climate aside, it appeared to many to be only a waiting game until such ventures were reignited with even greater fervor then the 21st century has already so graciously given them; therefore, it is only natural that our very own campus here on the Hilltop lend their voice. Along with student Aubree Story unveiling the new Social Justice Club this fall semester, Student Activities has recently announced plans to bring back the PRIDE club, with enough successful involvement and outreach from the student population, for the school’s future.
Citing their message as a “student organization established to foster and promote an open and honest environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students, partners, faculty, and staff in the WLU community,” the group “looks to promote positive images of the LGBT community and to foster opportunities for personal and professional growth regardless of sexual or gender identity.” This announcement was met with much excitement from the student population, especially because of the chance to truly build the club for what they, the students, want it to look like and be for them and their fellow community members.
As the club has yet to truly get up and off the ground, I reached out to Kate Billings, Director of Student Activities, for comment on what the inclusion of such a club would mean to our campus community; “I think it can provide conversations and support to students within the LGBTQ+ community and their allies here to discuss ways to grow as individuals and support members in that growth, [and] have people who can relate to [shared] similar experiences. I think just socially it is a great outlet for students, sometimes we think of all the services and support it can give, but at the end of the day you can really meet your best friend or someone [who] will be there for you after you leave the club and graduate… I think it will also mean that students will have an outlet and a mode to voice concerns, create ideas, [and] see new events happen with administration through the club.”
Billings went on to talk about how when a club doesn’t re-register, or might have some kind of internal functional or organizational issues, students can be afraid to restart it or bring it back because they don’t know what kind of support or opposition they’ll receive from their peers. However, this is a wonderful opportunity for University administrators such as Billings to step in and show just how much our school cares about these social issues, “We want to make sure we can help create that movement to [organize] and give additional support to show students we can do this together and help the organization thrive again!” said Billings. “We also have many students coming from different backgrounds, areas, religions, etc. and we want them to know as a university that no matter who you are [or] how you identify, you are welcomed at West Liberty, and having a Pride club (or any type of diversity entity – a Black Student Union, International Club, Religious Organizations) supports that mission.”
Billings summed up perfectly what she feels the club will bring to our campus and student population beyond the time of graduation; “It will show that the Hilltop truly is home. And hopefully encourage our student population to embrace inclusivity and welcome LGBTQ+ students to be authentic to themselves; not just within an academic environment.”
Please email Kate Billings, at [email protected], to let them know you’re interested in joining or helping out with the club’s creation and success.