Amber J. Guadez
A year and half ago, graduate students of the University La Verne’s psychology department joined together to create Students of PRIDE.
PRIDE stands for Psychology Respecting Inclusivity Diversity and Equality.
The objective of the club is to create and promote a climate of inclusivity and equality, said Adam Wiswell, the club’s co-chair, who is in his third year in the doctoral program in clinical-community psychology.
Wiswell’s goal was realized in March, when he – along with his co-chair Mike Martinez, who is also a third-year psychology graduate student – held their first PRIDE conference.
“We wanted to educate people in the psychology field to bring awareness of the LGBT community,” Martinez said. “We also want to make a sort of noise and ruckus to be a support system for individuals on campus dealing with issues involving gender identity or sexual orientation.” Martinez said.
The spring conference was titled Social Justice and Culture Under the Rainbow.
Speakers included two nationally known speakers Doug Haldeman, who is currently running for president of the American Psychological Association and Arlene Noriega, who is the president elect of division 44 of the American Psychological Association.
The third floor of the Student Center was filled with more than 100 students in attendance not only from ULV but also from colleges in surrounding cities such as Cal Poly Pomona and Azusa Pacific University.
Within the year, Students of PRIDE hope to grow in numbers and already have a tentative date for the second conference to take place on March 30, 2013.
“I’ve never heard of them,” senior Spanish major Cynthia Latham said.
During Latham’s first year, she felt as if the LGBT community wasn’t welcome.
She was unable to find an LGBT center and was referred by faculty to check out Cal Poly Pomona’s PRIDE center.
“ULV provides funding to fraternities, sororities, but never minorities,” Latham said.
In fact La Verne has another LGBT group on campus, Rainbow Alliance, which has been around for more than three years.
The two groups hope to partner for future activities.
To make PRIDE known across campus, as well as the community, a town-hall meeting is under-way this school year.
Students of PRIDE want others to discuss issues and make them feel safe and know that they exist to simply “serve them.”
“It’s about having heterosexual allies,” Wiswell said.
PRIDE encourages people to speak up. They feel LGBT prejudice is not just a simple issue, but also a human and equal rights issue.
“(We are) trying to help others’ mentalities grow…if you know someone gay, les or bi, it’s your fight too,” Wiswell said.
PRIDE invites all students who are interested or have any questions, there are open invitations for their weekly meetings.
They meet Thursdays at 5:45 p.m. in Hoover, room 129. Everyone is welcome to join and voice their opinions.
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Amber J. Guadez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.