GSA: Creating a Safe Space on Campus

Kate Horan:

Every person deserves a place where they feel safe and free to express themselves, to experience human connection and unity. The Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) is a student organization that creates this place for many students at Ursinus College. According to GSA President Danielle Santana Denrich ’24, “GSA’s mission is to provide a safe space and other resources for our community on campus. It’s less about political outreach off campus and more about fostering a kind and caring community on campus.” GSA welcomes everyone to their group, appreciating both allies as well as their LGBTQ+ friends on campus. GSA holds meetings called LGBTea Time on Mondays at 5 pm on the second floor of Starbucks in The Commons. These meetings are a general hang out session and are a safe space for LGBTQ+ students on campus to “make friends, do homework, and whatever else they want,” says Santana Denrich. GSA has hosted many events such as a S’mores Night, Pride Week, and Trans People Across History along with many other kinds of events that students can look forward to if they cannot attend GSA’s normally scheduled meetings.

“GSA means being friends with some pretty cool people [and] having a chance to do fun things with a diverse group of people,” says Jake Kosa ’25, a general member of GSA. The organization values inclusivity along with diversity. Participating in GSA allows students to spend time and interact with other like-minded queer people, forming connections and relationships. GSA’s Vice President, Tilly Dumaine ’25 states, “I decided to join because I wanted to become friends with more queer people, and I think it is crucial to have groups like this on campus. Having a community for queer students that can organize social events, provide a social support system, and advocate for our collective goals to the administration allows for marginalized groups such as the LGBTQ+ community to have our needs met on campus.” Not only does the organization provide a safe space and a close community, but it also provides a platform for the collective voice of the LGBTQ+ community on campus.

LGBTQ+ rights have long been controversial and politicized. It is an extremely polarizing matter in the United States, with some people believing that LGBTQ+ rights are human rights and others believing that LGBTQ+ individuals do not deserve rights. Kosa states, “I feel that our current political climate consists of people in power trying to erase queer identities and this has terrifying implications for our future and freedom.” Dumaine’s views on the political climate in the U.S. are disheartening with all of the homophobic and transphobic legislation being advanced. She states, “It feels like our rights and our ability to be ourselves are being stripped away because of right-wing, religious fundamentalism.” Dumaine thinks that steps need to be taken by GSA to create social change, with these steps involving hosting educational events and by creating their own strong community here on campus. GSA supports social equality and justice and works to create an inclusive and accepting community on campus. With LGBTQ+ rights being threatened nationwide, it is difficult for individuals to feel like they can make a difference. However, GSA is currently making a difference on the Ursinus College campus by leading by example. The organization is demonstrating how to practice compassion and how to accept others for who they are, both of which are lessons that the country as a whole needs to learn.

“People should join GSA if they want to become more involved in the UC queer community or if they want more social connection with fellow LGBTQ+ students!” says Dumaine. GSA is currently looking for new members. Anybody can join, whether they are queer, gender variant, straight, cisgender, or questioning. Both members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies make up the Gender and Sexuality Alliance. According to Kosa, “GSA is all for acknowledging and supporting people’s identities and exploration of those identities. GSA provides a space that’s judgment free and supportive for identity exploration.”

GSA is an essential organization on campus, both teaching and practicing acceptance and loving people for who they are. GSA not only provides a safe space, but the organization also provides a platform that supports the voices of members of the LGBTQ+ community on Ursinus’s campus. Additionally, GSA’s emails are essential to everyone at Ursinus. Featuring Santana Denrich’s cat, Esmerelda, GSA’s emails are spreading happiness every week. GSA, along with their adorable cat mascot, is an example of an organization on campus making a huge difference both by supporting members of the organization and by setting an example of acceptance and love for the Ursinus and Collegeville community.