Jeremiah Jurkiewicz Continues a Safe Zone for Students
by Lucy Farfan-Narcisse
Photo Credits: Lucy Farfan-Narcisse
The LGBTQ Resource Center at CSI offers students a safe haven of support, understanding, and resources through a number of services and events offered on campus.
The Banner recently had the opportunity to meet with Jeremiah Jurkiewicz, the new coordinator of the LGBTQ Resource Center and a CSI alumni.
The Banner: How long have you been the coordinator and how would you describe your position and what it entails?
Jeremiah Jurkiewicz: I began working as the Coordinator of the LGBTQ Resource Center in November 2013. My job as the coordinator is to support the LGBTQ students on campus and provide a safe space. My office is open for students to utilize, study, and ask questions. Another part of my job is that I work for Student Life and I really enjoy it because it is like working with a family. I try to educate the campus regarding LGBTQ issues through training and programming. I recently received training in Safe Zone and Ally training. Safe Zone training is geared towards faculty, staff, offices and departments on campus where they can learn how to be a Safe Zone for the LGBTQ community. Ally training is for students where they learn to be an ally for the LGBTQ community. I will be providing training workshops for anyone that may be interested in providing a Safe Zone or becoming an Ally.
TB: What kind of services, resources and programming does your office provide to LGBTQ students?
JJ: We have a small library of LGBTQ books and magazines that students can check out and borrow. The programming put on throughout the year is related to current LGBTQ issues such as the Scott Fried event on March 27 in which he will be addressing STDS, HIV, acceptance and coming out. In April there will be a Coming Out panel where I will be telling my coming out story along with two CSI faculty members. May has basically become Gay Pride Month here at CSI where we try to offer some events. We will be collaborating with Professor Jane Marcus-Delgado for the LGBTQ Human Rights Daring to be LGBTQ Around The World event. A number of speakers will be talking about the movements and struggles of the LGBTQ community around the world. I am also able to provide LGBTQ students with information pertaining to scholarships and upcoming events in the Staten Island community. I have a strong connection with the LGBTQ Community Center on Staten Island and they have actually donated some of the literature in the library. Our office is happy to promote any events, lectures and anything LGBTQ related on campus. We also have a support group that meets on campus twice a month. A good ending to the academic year is our annual Lavender Ceremony and it is open to any graduating LGBTQ students graduating. It is a time for the college to celebrate its’ LGBTQ seniors for their accomplishments and their lives. Students receive rainbow tassels and cords that they can wear to Commencement if they wish. It is good for students that have not come out with their families, they can invite people to come and celebrate themselves and be comfortable with who they are.
TB: In your opinion is there a great need for the LGBTQ Resource Center on campus and do you feel there will always be a need?
JJ: There is a thought or idea like why is this needed? We have marriage equality in New York, we have all these rights. But for me when there is no question when a student can come out to his/her family or to friends on campus and their reaction is like…whatever. When it gets to that point then I will think about there not being a need. Until all laws are passed across the United States and across the world-there is always going to be a need. Just the idea that this office exists shows that CSI is in support of the LGBTQ students.
TB: Is there anything the straight community at CSI can do to help promote awareness and encourage support to LGBTQ friends, family and students?
JJ: There are many little things you can do in your own personal lives to make LGBTQ people feel more welcome and comfortable. Watch the way you use your language, you may not realize you are offending someone with your words. Speak up when somebody uses homophobic, transphobic, racist, or intolerant language. LGBTQ students are not looking for attention or special rights, they are simply asking to be treated equally and given the same ground. They want to feel safe in our own communities and not to be attacked for holding hands with their boyfriend or girlfriend while walking down the street.
TB: What are your hopes and goals for the future of the LGBTQ Resource Center at CSI?
JJ: I would love to build a larger community on campus of students that know that they can come for information or questions whether they are straight or LGBTQ. I want to know that every student is supported. My hope is for all 14,000 students at CSI to know that the LGBTQ Resource Center does exist and to increase student knowledge around this matter. If they want information they have the place to seek it.