CSI Shows Inclusivity for LGBTQ+ on Campus
By: Beren Sabuncu
Pride Kamp is all about informing and uniting the LGBTQ+ and Ally community of CSI.
CSI’s 4th Annual Pride Kamp took place in 1P, on September 20 and was organized by the LGBT Center, and more specifically by Jeremiah Jurkiewicz.
Pride Kamp started at 9 AM and went on until 5 PM with participants who were given a folder with their name on it, and a small notebook with rainbow details.
The event started with a brief but fun game of “Never Have I Ever” led by Debi Kee, the Associate Director of Student Affairs.
A participant would get in the middle of the circle and ask a question. This was followed by screams and laughter as other participants who answered yes to the question would run to the other side of the circle, trying not to be left in the middle.
The participants were also given an empty name tag to write both their name and preferred pronoun.
This proved to be effective, especially in sessions where people would address what another participant said.
The event continued with a brief introductory speech by Jennifer S. Borrero, the Vice President for Student and Enrollment Services. Borrero provided information about CSI, reminding everyone that, “CSI has a 3.5/5 on the Campus Pride Index.”
CSI is the most inclusive CUNY school, based on the number of unprecedented LGBTQ+ events held in and by CSI, Lavender Graduation and Pride Kamp being two of the most prominent events.
Mrs. Borrero went on to say that, “One of the things that make this country great is diversity and we need to protect that.” Unsurprisingly, diversity was a major theme at the event.
The keynote Speaker was Brian Esser, a prominent LGBTQ+ lawyer, who stated that his first job is that, “I’m a husband and a father.”
Mr. Esser started his career working for big companies such as Arnold & Porter in Washington, then Baker & Hostetler in New York.
He is now a solo practitioner, and is on the Board of Directors of the National LGBT Bar Foundation. He was named one of the top LGBT lawyers under 40 by the National LGBT Bar Association.
Esser initially talked about work ethic, saying he still abides by the Boy Scouts’ “Campsite Rule.”
The Campsite Rule suggests that you leave the campsite better than you found it.
Mr. Esser added, “That’s what I try to do at places I work at.”
He also suggested that the audience ask themselves, “What can I do to add value?” He talked about his work as a solo practitioner, adoption and his values.
Mr. Esser had a few pieces of advice that one wouldn’t expect to hear from a man of his stature.
He advised the listeners to, “Invest in those relationships, form those attachments.”
While one might’ve expected more hard-edged “big fish eats small fish” advice, he was adamant in teaching us “the need to take care of yourself,” because “Employers care about you, as long as they need you.”
Not only was it refreshing for the audience, it was impressive as he got a loud round of applause after his speech.
After Brian Esser’s speech came Workshop Session 1. There were two topics to choose from, “Contemporary Queer Performance in NYC” and “Feminism, Race, and LGBTQ.” The latter was more crowded.
“Feminism, Race, and LGTBQ” was moderated by Ramsha Begum and lasted 45 minutes where the concept of intersectionality was discussed.
The argument got heated when a participant declared that they were Republican, and that politics does not have to play into sexuality.
Though the space was declared a safe one, the participants comments were received with a lot of animosity. Yet, though the crowd was tumultuous, every participant left the room with something to think about.
After a 45-minute lunch where every diet was considered, participants went on to join the second session.
The topics for the second session were, “LGBTQ and our Civil Liberties in America Today” and “LGBTQ and Body Image.” The latter was also more crowded.
The former was led by Chris Verene, Assistant Professor of Performing and Creative Arts. This session was far less heated than the first one.
The audience was informed about The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) where Verene also touched on racial and immigration tensions.
The group also discussed the right to assemble, on which Verene said, “The right to assemble shouldn’t be taken away from anybody who wants to assemble because without that right to assemble we can’t organize and we can’t make change. The right to assemble is how we got same-sex marriage.”
His statement was followed with nods.
After the sessions ended, Brittany Sinodinos conducted a thinking activity that enabled the participants to talk about their stories and thoughts in smaller groups.
Robin stated that, “I’m a trans man and my partner is a cis-man and my partner tells me all the time that he is the domestic one. So, when we move in together, he wants to do all the cooking and cleaning, and I’m like good, cause I can’t do either one of those.”
The groups tried to define gender and sexuality, while talking about their personal experiences. It was a safe space.
Jeremiah Jurkiewicz then conducted and “Ally Training” during which he talked about some terms that might be confusing or hard to grasp.
This was then followed by a LGBTQ+ Meet & Greet where Gary W. Reichard, Provost/Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, gave a speech.
To end the day, cookies, chips and coffee were served to a group which was, at that point, talking like friends do and laughing.
Those who wish to know more about the LGBTQ+ Community in CSI could reach Jeremiah Jurkiewicz, in 1-C Room 225, or his CSI e-mail.