The Meaning of Pride

Sean Repuyan, Features Editor

With Pride Month making its mark in June to commemorate the Stonewall riots in the summer of 1969 and LGBT History Month being just around the corner in October, Ashland University’s students express what pride means to them. 

The Office of Diversity & Inclusion (ODI) seeks to provide an inclusive, quality and comprehensive educational experience for students from all religions, race, ethnicities, genders, ages, sexual orientations and disabilities. 

By engaging with the campus and surrounding communities, ODI gives students the opportunity to have their voices heard and to speak with pride. The student organization, Eagles for Pride (EFP) embodies LGBT+ representation on AU’s campus, however its voice initially struggled in finding its place within the community. 

The mission of EFP is to work toward “making Ashland University a safer and more inclusive environment regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. In doing so, we hope to promote the preservation of human dignity and respect for all people.” 

According to a current member of EFP who wishes to remain anonymous, the organization was founded around 2016 by former AU graduates, Joe Farber and Julia Hines. The initial goal Farber and Hines intended was providing LGBT+ students with a community on campus in which their voices would be heard. 

“From what I remember, any club or organization needs to go through the same process of being unchartered for either a year or a semester, before the club can apply for a charter,” the source said. “However, once EFP went through this process, each time they applied for a charter, they were denied.” 

At the time, the club presented disruptions to the Christian ideals of the university and was not viewed as appropriate on AU’s campus. 

“Although the Student Life Office sent [the application] through, I believe it was predominantly higher-ups who did not want EFP to be a part of campus,” the source continued. 

This cycle continued for three years, starting even before our source enrolled at Ashland University. It was not until their sophomore year that Eagles for Pride was officially chartered. 

However, for many of the organization’s members, the dynamic between AU and EFP still feels unresolved and strained. 

“I believe AU feels they have resolved the issue and have changed the dynamic between our club and them to be more positive,” the source mentioned. “But I feel the dynamic should have been positive and comfortable to begin with. It feels more as if the university just gave up on denying us, instead of accepting us fully.” 

The anonymous source emphasized when it comes to political ideals, LGBT+ representation will always be a struggle. When it comes to seeing any kind of future on campus, they envision AU to focus more on acceptance rather than exclusion so that every student going to class can feel safe and be a part of the community. When it comes to the Accent on the Individual to better one’s experience with education, that starts with one’s experience with pride. 

The Eagles for Pride logo shown on the organization’s Facebook social media page. (SUBMITTED BY: EAGLES FOR PRIDE)

“I feel like I have been able to not hold my breath anymore, but in that same breath, I am cautious knowing that there is still so much going on [in social justice],” the source concluded. “I want to see more cohesion on this campus, so if you want to come to Eagles for Pride, then come. It’s not just about LGBT people, it’s about a home away from home for everyone.”