by: Gretchen Neal/Campus & Features Editor
Lake Land College takes pride in the fact that it is one of the safest colleges in the state, statistically speaking. Students need not worry much about crime, but that does not mean that students have no concerns at all. This stands for all students. There are groups around campus for financial assistance, tutoring and advisement for classes or transferring and most professors will not turn students away if they need advice for a serious problem. However, a student might feel too intimidated to seek help if he/she is used to being targeted for sexual preferences.
To address this issue, Lake Land College has launched Safe Zone, a program that provides training for staff and students alike who are interested in supporting LGBT+ students, staff, workers and anyone else involved in the Lake Land College community. People who attend the sessions and complete training will receive a sticker stating that they are Safe Zone trained. This sticker, already posted on a number of instructors’ doors, will let others know that the certified person is a safe person to talk to about LGBT+ issues. Those who have completed the Safe Zone course can also give assistance to those who need it and give information on what resources in the community can offer help.
Stephanie Medley-Rath, the instructor who organized the Safe Zone meetings, said that although this program is new to Lake Land, other universities have been using it for some time. The program offered by Lake Land is similar to the programs at Eastern Illinois University, University of Illinois, and Parkland Community College. It should be noted that this program was not designed to single out facility members who have not participating. Medley-Rath also stressed that even if people are involved with the LGBT+ community, it is always important to develop informed opinions to avoid causing problems.
Medley-Rath had this to say about the program: “It helps students realize – whether they’re gay, straight, whatever – that … Lake Land is supportive of students who are gay or lesbian, that we are an inclusive campus, and that you should feel safe; you should be able to be who you are without judgment.”
Interested staff members met Nov 27 to learn more about Safe Zone and receive certification as trained members.
If there is anyone, staff or student, who was unable to make the Safe Zone meeting and would like more information or to be trained, contact Stephanie Medley-Rath at firstname.lastname@example.org.