On Aug. 26, the Gender and LGBTQIA Center hosted its annual LGBTQIA New Student Welcome event in LaRose Student Commons. Students were able to begin developing strong interpersonal relationships and be able to able to connect with others in impactful ways.
On Aug. 26, the Gender and LGBTQIA Center hosted its annual LGBTQIA New Student Welcome event in LaRose Student Commons.
The room was decorated with jars filled with various Pride flags, stickers, and affirmation cards. A lo-fi playlist filled the space with music to welcome the newest students of the LGBTQIA communities to Elon.
Within the colorfully decorated space, students found food, resources, stickers and various Pride Flags. Nearly 70 students and a dozen faculty, staff and returning students attended the event to extend a welcome to this year’s incoming class of LGBTQIA students.
Gender & Sexuality Living and Learning Community (LLC) faculty advisor Lauren Guilmette, an assistant professor of philosophy, described the start of this school year as a significant marker for LGBTQIA community-building on our campus.
“We are proud to have expanded our LLC from 25 rooms to 48 rooms this summer, almost doubling our only explicitly gender-inclusive housing for the 2022-23 academic year,” Guilmette said. “This event was a highlight among the series of events that the GLC organized to welcome LGBTQ+ students into our community.”
The program began with a welcome and opening remark from Luis H. Garay, Director of the Gender and LGBTQIA Center (GLC). Garay shared an overview of the GLC, a brief timeline of LGBTQIA history at Elon, departmental highlights and achievements, and a list of events sponsored by the GLC. Garay shared about Elon’s inclusion again this year on Campus Pride’s “Best of the Best” list and how the GLC will celebrate its 10-year anniversary in fall 2023.
This year’s LGBTQIA New Student Welcome celebrates an important milestone. This year’s incoming class of LGBTQIA students is the highest of any other year at Elon which increased by 50.76% from last year to this year. For Fall 2021, the number of incoming students was 133 and for Fall 2022 that number is 199.
Implementing feedback from last year’s event, the GLC included a community-building activity in the event. The start and end of the event provided students with an opportunity to eat food and sit at tables to build new connections with each other. A highlight of the event was students participating in an Icebreaker Bingo facilitated by James Hemmingway ‘25, a student manager for the communications and resources team in the GLC. Each student received a bingo card with various prompts in the squares of the bingo card such as “knows the year of the Stonewall Riots” and “knows the building and room number of the GLC.” Prizes for those with a bingo included an Elon University Pride baseball hat, a rainbow gradient water bottle, GLC t-shirts, and squishmallow plush toys.
Through this activity, students were able to begin developing strong interpersonal relationships and be able to able to connect with individuals in impactful ways. “The goal of the activity was to get the new students to work together and get to know each other in a slightly competitive game,” Hemmingway said. “It can be nerve-wracking to be in a room of all new people and in creating this activity, I wanted to make sure there was a low stakes opportunity for the students to “speed friend” one another.”
Forming connections and building new friendships are important steps toward supporting the social well-being of students. This facet of well-being is a key component of Elon’s HealthEU wellness initiative.
“The activity was a really great icebreaker for a lot of them and after the game was over, the students were already making connections, trading contact information, and debriefing on their first week at Elon to one another,” Hemmingway noted. “As an LGBTQIA+ student, it is life-changing to have a community like the one we have on campus, and I am excited to have helped facilitate parts of this event!”
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