When asked about how accepted they feel on campus, several students in same-sex relationships at SHU had mixed answers, ranging from good to bad. Each student who was interviewed, all in same-sex relationships, relayed stories of incidents where they felt deliberately unsafe or unaccepted on campus.
Christina Pepe, a junior criminal justice major, remembered a time in her freshman year where she saw discriminatory posts about the LGBTQ community on YikYak, a public forum for communities to share opinions.
“It was really upsetting seeing those posts,” she said. “I remember telling my mom about them and she was worried about me being openly gay on campus.”
Another student in a same sex relationship, who asked not to be named, said that she’s experienced multiple instances of verbal homophobia on campus, whether towards her specifically or the community as a whole. She, however, like the other students interviewed, still believe that Seton Hall is an accepting place.
Leanna Agresta, a junior broadcasting major and Pepe’s partner, said that she and Pepe received nothing but support in their same-sex relationship, even if that was not the case for them individually.
“I feel very accepted here. Even before we came out, our friends would come up to us and say, ‘whatever this is, I love it! Keep doing what you’re doing!’”Agresta said.
While the LGBTQ community is, for the most part, accepted at SHU, all three students also noted that the community is severely underrepresented. The anonymous student added that “Representation is harder to find, nowhere on this campus have I ever seen a physical representation of the queer community via events, flyers or art. It’s discouraging.”
While Seton Hall does have ALLIES, a club for LGBTQ students to meet others in the community in a non-discriminating environment, this club seems to lack advertising support as opposed to more prominent groups.
Commenting on ALLIES, Pepe said, “I joined my freshman year but it was difficult to find this club because it is not broadcasted as much as other clubs on campus.”
While she noted that the LGBTQ community does feel underrepresented, she also said that ALLIES is an important group nonetheless.
“I feel it would be extremely helpful to other students and incoming freshman in the LGBTQ community to know about this club because it is a place where you feel safe, accepted, and you also get to meet others in the LGBTQ community on campus,” Pepe said.
Alyssa Schirm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.