Features

LGBTQ & A – A Conversation Among Faculty, Administration & Students

by Sophie Ryan, Contributor

On April 22, the LGBTQ Student Group at Manhattan College hosted a question and answer panel with LGBTQ+ faculty and administrators. The event was hybrid, with attendants coming both virtually and in person.

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The panel included assistant professor of sociology Robin Lovell, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics Robert Suzzi Valli, Ph.D., associate professor of communication Rebecca Kern, Ph.D., professor of English Rocco Marinaccio, Ph.D., and assistant dean of the School of Engineering Tiffany French. @MC_LGBTQ/COUR TESY

The panel included assistant professor of sociology Robin Lovell, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics Robert Suzzi Valli, Ph.D., associate professor of communication Rebecca Kern, Ph.D., professor of English Rocco Marinaccio, Ph.D., and assistant dean of the School of Engineering Tiffany French.

The panelists introduced themselves and shared some background per taining to their experiences of campus as LGBTQ+ individuals.

“I try to visibly speak as a gay man because I think this kind of visibility is really key and one of the things that’s really important to me is that the faculty and administration keep pace with the student body, which has gotten increasingly diverse and visibly queerer,” Marinaccio said.

Similar to Marinaccio, Lovell is happy to embrace who she is around campus and in all walks of life.

“I’m also purposefully who I am and not apologetic about it,” Lovell said.

Although proud of who she is on campus, the fact that Manhattan College is a Catholic school impacted French’s initial experience.

“I was a little disappointed when I got here and I experienced a few things where folks asked me things like ‘you knew this was a Catholic college, right?’,” French said.

After the faculty and administrators introduced them- selves and their experiences, the floor opened up for students and other guests to the event to ask questions. One of the first questions posed was how to approach coming out, especially in professional settings after graduation. Kern answered this question and particularly stressed the importance of finding companies and jobs that are accepting and supportive.

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“Make sure that you find those safe places for you too, and don’t be ashamed of that,” Kern said. “You have every right to feel like you should be okay.”

Another question was how students can bring up their own queer identities in the classroom, and how professors can ensure that their learning spaces are accepting and en- courage acceptable dialogue.

“One of the things that’s really important for professors is that we leave an open space, not just for people who are LGBTQ, but for people to talk about race, and talk about ethnicity, to talk about class,” Kern said.

Another question that was asked was how to navigate being LGBTQ in STEM spaces.

“There are a lot of great groups out there, like Lesbians Who Tech and things like that, so there’s lots of great organi- zations. You can find communities in pretty much anything” French said.

Kieran Flanagan, a junior civil engineering major, also serves as the secretary for the LGBTQ Student Group. Flana- gan ran the event and facilitated the asking of questions. He is happy to know that coordinating this event impacted stu- dents in a positive way.

“I was asking one of my friends ‘how do you feel?’[about the event] because she’d never been to a club event or anything,” Flanagan said. “She [was] just like ‘oh my God I love this, listening to older know it had an impact on at queer faculty talk about their least one person really makes experiences.’ The fact that I me feel good.”

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