Georgetown University Pride Co-Presidents Joseph Graumann (SFS `10) and Carlos Leon (COL `10) sat down on Monday to discuss recent events on campus and the future of the organization. Interview conducted and transcribed by Satinder Kaur.
What has the student reaction been like, in regards to the recent hate crimes?
Graumann: Overall, being here fall of 2007, when a lot of the initial push for the creation of the LGBTQ center and just greater LGBTQ awareness on campus started, I have seen the active participation of students outside of the LGBTQ community just expand tremendously
What is the relationship of GU Pride with the University administration? Do you have a good working relationship?
Graumann: Honestly, I would have to say yes. The University has been more than willing to talk to us, we have never been told we can’t do something perhaps we are not trying hard enough. Certainly, the LGBTQ center, an arm of the administration, has been nothing but supportive. We have an excellent working relationship with them.
How is the bias reporting system working out?
Graumann: Well, the bias reporting system was something that came out of the Out for Change campaign in the fall of 2007 … Sivagami [Subbaraman] sits on the committee that sees these incident reports and it’s pretty much a fact that the more these incidents get reported, the more information the university has and the more willing the university is to recognize the problem with bias on campus. What Pride has been doing is handing out key chains, we have been constantly plugging the bias reporting system to media in our events, in our daily interactions with people. If someone comes to me personally, either as a friend or if they know we’re involved in Pride or something, and they have news of an incident, the first thing I ask them is ‘are you safe’ ‘did you report it?’ It’s really important we give that information.
How did you get involved in GU Pride?
Graumann: Well, I came out on campus during the Out for Change campaign. It was a lot of the issues at the time and the struggle that went on for recognition of the LGBTQ community really made me look inside myself, … [and] I realized that there is work to be done. And my good friend Ellen … she really encouraged me to be involved in the community.
What is GU Pride’s relationship with the new LGBTQ liaison from DPS going to be like?
Leon: I mean, the position was just created last week, or in the last two weeks, so it’s still fairly new and the relationship is still being determined.
Graumann: It’s good to have her.
Leon: It is important to have visibility, even within the department of public safety. Metro has an LGBTQ liaison and campuses around the country have a LGBTQ liaison. So, it’s important for us to know that the campus is being aware of the existence of bias-related incidents.