International Student Affairs took a different approach to their monthly coffee hours by holding their first ever National Coming Out Week International Coffee Hour on Tuesday.
In the past, coffee hours have featured a different country at each event, and students come to learn about and experience each country’s respective culture. This month, however, ISA decided to celebrate NCOW by utilizing their monthly coffee hour to recognize and show support to LGBTQ students from around the world.
“I feel like it brings the university together as a whole because we do have a really big international population,” said Alexis Burress, a sophomore psychology major and a member of the LGBTQ community. “And to bring in LGBTQ issues with the international people and also the people of color in the community, it brings the spotlight to those who really didn’t have that access before.”
For Summer Williams, a senior human development and community engagement major, the coffee hour’s NCOW theme was very personal to her.
“I personally have a lot of LGBTQ family members. I have a cousin that’s transgender, and it’s something that I’m really comfortable with, but I know it’s something that a lot of people are uncomfortable with,” she said. “I think [the coffee hour] is a really great way to bring people who are maybe from more conventional backgrounds to come and see what it’s about.”
The event, which took place at the Student Center, featured free food and coffee for the roughly 50 attendees. Students chatted with one another, sat at tables labeled with different countries such as Brazil and Taiwan and listened to presentations given by student organizations including the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy, and Leadership, which highlighted the importance of building community and advocacy across different identities.
Jazmyne Williams, a senior public relations major and office assistant at IDEAL, said she hopes the event will start conversations and “bridge the gap” between students of different identities.
“I think [the NCOW theme] is definitely a little bit more refreshing or a different thing to do, because usually we don’t think about [being LGBTQ] in connection with where you come from, like country or culture-wise,” Williams said. “For us here in America, it’s a melting pot. We’re diverse, there’s lots of different people here all the time. It’s nice … you can see [being queer] is not just something for one type of person.”