As an alumnus, I’ve been tracking the discussion about last week’s LGBT feature online. The response I’ve been hearing is overwhelmingly positive: that the writers are brave people, that Chimes did an excellent job with this feature and that Calvin is doing better than some of its peer institutions on LGBT issues by letting something like this run in the school paper. But many of those discussions have not gone deeper than that. Stopping here is tempting because everyone can feel good about our accomplishments as a school and things can stay much the way they are.
I heard a call to just the opposite in last week’s stories. It’s wonderful that conversations about LGBT issues can be held in the open at Calvin. However, the purpose of this conversation is not to have a conversation forever but so that things can change. The stories talked about fear, feeling unsafe and ostracized, secrets and risk. Taking last week’s stories as information rather than a claim on you to make the community a safer place is missing the point.
Each of the stories talks about what kinds of changes are needed. They are worth reading again while asking, “What could I do to make Calvin a better place for this person?” Even if Calvin has made progress, it will only become a safer place for future students if we put in the work to change the campus culture in the present, as these stories convict us to do.
John Kloosterman, ‘13