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In 1995 a group of students tried to form a gay/straight alliance called "Xavier against Homophobia." This club was passed unanimously by student senate, but was rejected by the administration. In the fall of 1999 a group of students, led by Will Cordery and Stacey Kim, organized a campaign within Amnesty International called "OutFront." This group was not an official club, but had organized meetings and programs through Amnesty.
In the spring of 2000, Chris Seelbach organized a group of students to write a petition to either include sexual orientation in the University's non-discrimination policy or issue a welcoming statement to gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The petition was distributed within a week-long period and received over 1200 signatures, roughly one-fourth the student body at Xavier.
As a result of the petition, Xavier issued a welcoming statement, becoming the first Jesuit University in the country to issue such a statement without state mandate. In the fall of 2000, Chris Seelbach and Brooks Keeshan tried to put this welcoming statement into action by proposing a club called The Xavier Alliance. This club was passed by student senate and after a two month delay, was passed by the administration. On April 4, 2001, The Xavier Alliance had its first meeting with over thirty-five students present.
As its first major activity, the Xavier Alliance was pleased to be able to bring Judy Shepard to Xavier's campus. Judy spook on October 22, 2001 in front of a sold out crowd of 800 Ohio, Cincinnati and Xavier community members on "The Legacy of Matthew Shepard."
Also during fall 2001, Xavier Alliance hosted "Race and Homosexuality, being gay and a person of color," Coming Out Week activities (Safe Zone Training, showing of But, I'm a cheerleader, come out as an ally, and a candlelight vigil for Matthew Shepard), "Homosexuality and the Catholic Tradition," and a Christmas party courtesy of Jacob's Bay.
The Xavier Alliance opened spring 2002 by hosting "Everyday acts of rebellion" by Elizabeth Toledo, former Vice President of Action for the National Women's Organization. She discussed ways that each of us can make a difference in our community and the current political climate for civil rights as well, and what's ahead for LGBT concerns.
In Spring 2004 the Xavier Alliance kicked off its first annual "Sexual Diversity Awareness Week." This week involved the showing of a movie, educational speakers, and and concluded with a dance in the Clock Tower Lounge.
The 2004-2005 school year has been one of transition for the Alliance as we have refocused to become a more integral part of the Xavier community. The Alliance started the Spring Semester with new officers under a re-written Constitution which delegates four principle heads: Treasury & Campus Representative, Education, Social Activities, and Communication. The four officials have equal power with offices which are designed to compliment each other and help the Alliance broaden it's horizons to include more events and activities.
The Alliance made some huge impacts on campus during the 2006-2007 school year. Weekly attendance grew over 250%. They participated in the Cincinnati Youth Summit at UC, as well as World Aids Day on campus in December. On March '07 they invited former NFL player Esera Tuaolo to campus to talk about his experience and hardships about being a gay man in the NFL. Two days later over 25 volunteers helped to hand out 500 blue and black t-shirts which read 'gay? fine by me.' All 500 shirts were gone in under 55 minutes. The t-shirt project was such a huge success that it returned in April, where over 300 more t-shirts were given away.
In the 2007-2008 school year, the Alliance brought three major programs to campus. The first took place in September in line with the College Republicans bringing Ann Coulter to the Cintas Center. With the massive support of campus and Equality Ohio, the Alliance was able to put on a positive event entitled "Thank You, Ann Coulter" where the minority groups usually targeted during her speech were able to have a positive, uplifting event which occurred during the exact same time Ann was making her speech only a few hundred yards away. The event raised over $25,000 for student clubs and is doing positive work on campus to this day. The second event, was our showing of For the Bible Tells Me So, in the Gallagher Theater. With a combined attendance between the Theater and Kelly Auditorium of over 500 people, the Alliance held the Cincinnati premiere of one of the best pro-GLBT documentaries ever produced. The third event was producing and distributing our club t-shirt of the year, "Take PRIDE In...". The t-shirts were a collaboration of a Chicago Boy's Town window pane and club member ideas. The shirts and hoodies were a big hit around campus!
The 2008-2009 school year was one of Alliance's biggest years yet! For National Coming Out Day in October Alliance had a table outside Gallagher and handed out information about coming out as well as free Xavier Alliance buttons that encouraged people to “Take Pride In…Love, Coming Out of the Closet, Speaking the Truth, and Vegan Baking!” In February some Alliance members attended the Midwestern Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference (MBLGTACC) at Indiana University where we participated in workshops on just about any LGBTQ topic you can think of—everything from intersex children to bisexuality to sex education in America to transgender issues to the role technology plays in the LGBTQ community. It was a great opportunity to further educate ourselves so that we can bring further education to the Xavier community. In the Spring Xavier Alliance held the first ever Queer Week, filled with both educational and fun events intended to increase visibility within our community. The Academic Mall was filled with rainbow flags representing the victims of hate crimes in 2007, and a Candlelight Vigil was held in honor of all LGBTQ hate crime victims. So many people lined up to receive a free “gay? fine by me” shirt that we gave out 250 shirts in less than three minutes! Tables were set up in Gallagher and the cafeteria to distribute White Knots to show support for equal marriage rights and help spark discussion both on and off campus (for more information on White Knots visit www.whiteknots.org). Renowned author and gender theorist Kate Bornstein graced Xavier with her presence, offering a special workshop for Alliance members and an open performance for Xavier and surrounding communities. The Gallagher Theater was filled with students for a showing of the movie “Milk”. At the end of the week we celebrated Same-Sex Hand Holding Day to encourage people to show some love and talk about the discrimination, stigmas, and stereotypes same sex couples (or even just friends) face when it comes to public displays of affection. It was very exciting to see Queer Week bring out so many people in support of Alliance and the LGBTQ community, and we can’t wait to do it again this coming year! Xavier Alliance members also participated in several local peaceful protests in support of LGBTQ equality. One of our other major events, Focus on All Families, was hosted in response to the Citizens for Community Values (CCV) fundraising event hosted in the Cintas Center. CCV’s mission is to “reduce destructive behaviors” contrary to their ideals and they have channeled millions of dollars into anti-family and anti-equality legislation, including the Defense of Marriage Act in Ohio, Article XII in Cincinnati, and Proposition 8 in California. CCV is directly affiliated with Focus on The Family, the Evangelist Colorado Springs organization that preaches controversial so-called biblical truths and were big Proposition 8 donors. Xavier Alliance partnered with Equality Ohio and encouraged people to donate money to progressive student organizations on Xavier’s campus rather than donating money to CCV (money that would inevitably used to fund anti-equality and anti-family legislation across the country). Focus on All Families was a positive event intended to show support for all families and it was full of family fun activities!
The Alliance is very proud of it's accomplishments so far, and hopes to continue to make a positive impact at Xavier in the '09-'10 school year!