Written By: T Kinkley, Red & Black Arts & Culture Writer
During the 2021-2022 academic year, Washington & Jefferson (W&J) College’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) received backlash for being chaotic and disorganized. The 2022-2023 executive board has put extra effort into developing a more structured, educational club in response to the alleged complaints.
Shayla VanHorn, president of the GSA for the 2022-2023 school year, came up with the idea to have a rotating four-week plan with a variety of both educational and informal activities. The executive board further decided first three meetings of the month will be one-hour-long, educational meetings on Wednesdays at 6 p.m., followed by a laid-back bonding event in the fourth week. The educational weeks include lessons about LGBTQ+ issues, discussions on marginalized groups in the LGBTQ+ community, and deep dives into a specified gender identity or sexuality. The fourth, informal meeting is usually a movie night, an arts and crafts session, or another non-educational activity.
The executive board is working hard to improve the GSA, particularly VanHorn. “It is great being the president of a club that has been one of my greatest supports since I first came on campus, and it's even greater seeing the work my peers are putting in to make it better,” VanHorn said. “I couldn't have done any of this without their commitment and ideas!"
“It is great being the president of a club that has been one of my greatest supports since I first came on campus..." - Shayla VanHorn (2022 W&J GSA President)
GSA’s first two non-introduction meetings took place on Oct. 5 and Oct. 12. On week one, an executive member spoke about Latinx members of the community, and what they face as being a member of both the Latinx and the LGBTQ+ communities. Following that in week two, a presentation was given on National Coming Out Day which takes place on Oct. 11 of each year.
GSA has always promoted the idea of stories being shared, which is why they created a safe space where people can do just that. Some of the board members are Safe-Zone trained, and some are trained in W&J’s Prez2Prez training.
This allows students and faculty like GSA’s social media manager, Stevie Gray, feel safe at all GSA meetings while sharing stories. “Since my first meeting last fall, GSA has been a safe and comfortable space that means so much to me,” Gray said. “As social media manager it's very important to me that we have a welcoming online presence as well, so revamping the digital aspects of the club has been a key component of this role for me.”
“Since my first meeting last fall, GSA has been a safe and comfortable space that means so much to me,” Gray said.
Overall, the executive board is excited for the new school year and to meet new possible members at future events. GSA hosted a Halloween Party with games, food, crafts, and a costume contest on Oct. 26 in the Hub Alley from 5 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
If you are interested in coming to any future meetings, more information can be found on the GSA Instagram page: @dubjaygsa.