Safe Zone program updates

By Nicholas Polinsky

A new Safe Zone program has recently been implemented at Roger Williams University. Under the leadership and guidance of Gabby Porcaro, the coordinator of LGBTQ Programs, there are high hopes for the program. 
With the primary intention of increasing awareness and acceptance for all LGBTQ members of the campus community, the program seeks to educate those who participate in it. Having greater knowledge of individuals who identify as LGBTQ, as well as the struggles that they continue to face, will help them to feel more comfortable at RWU.
Porcaro further explained the three tiers of the Safe Zone training program, each of which are of equal importance.
The first tier focuses on the basics of LGBTQ culture, as well as any terms that are used in this culture. Porcaro said that those who participate in this tier “will gain foundational knowledge about LGBTQ life, identity development, and how to serve as an ally. Participants will also receive tools and resources to help create more inclusive spaces.”
The second tier highlights the struggles that plague the LGBTQ community and shares suggestions of how people can aid their community in solving these problems. 
“Participants in this tier will also have the opportunity to self-reflect, and critically examine societal issues faced by members of the LGBTQ community,” Porcaro said.
Finally, tier three zeroes in on the issues that the transgender community faces specifically. Although these issues are mentioned in the first two tiers, tier three will go into greater depth than tier two. 
“Participants in this tier will be learn how to serve as allies to the transgender community,” Porcaro said.
At this time, all Resident Assistants have gone through both tiers one and two of the Safe Zone training program. Because of their position in residence halls and with other students, it is important that they be helpful and knowledgeable resources and allies.
The “Hawk Ally” stickers that can be found throughout campus — often on faculty office doors, as a sign of support — were from the old program.
“I am hoping to develop a new sticker to launch during spring 2018 that will allow folks to indicate which levels of the training they have completed,” Porcaro said. 
Sophomore Resident Assistant Cassandra North has gone through the training program and found it to be very helpful. 
Although she already had some knowledge about the terminology and the general situations that LGBTQ individuals face, she added that the training showed her “how to better help and advocate for members of the LGBTQ community.”
North sees the program as a valuable source of information on a topic everyone should be conscious of.
“[Most] of the time it’s student leaders that go through [these programs]. More people need to be aware of experiences that [the LGBTQ community have] than just student leaders,” North said.
This improved program is a welcome addition to the RWU campus, as it will encourage tolerance and understanding between individuals.
Keep an eye out for any further information regarding the trainings. It is encouraged that everyone learns more about the LGBTQ community, whether through programs like the Safe Zone trainings or other means.