The Pride Center at SVSU is hosting a slew of events to promote advocacy and inclusiveness and areas for students to safely be themselves.
One of these regular events is The Out Group, a social group intended to provide an inclusive space for LGBT+ students and allies. The Out Group takes place every Monday from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. in the Student Life Programming Room.
The first Out Group was hosted Sept. 11 and had a showing of about 15 students. Students were able to go from table to table to meet new people and play board games. Some of the students there had frequently attended last year’s Out Group meetings as well, like third-year social work major Samantha Miller.
“When I saw that they were making the Out Group a program, I thought, ‘I really need to do this, I need to do this for myself, and to meet more people like me,’” Miller said. “So I just ended up coming and never stopped.”
The development of The Out Group came about because there was not a group on campus for LGBT+ communities to host social gatherings or activities after the old registered student organization, Living Proud, folded.
“What I noticed is that over the course of last year, we had students who felt isolated on campus,” said Lucy Mercier, director of the Pride Center and Department of Social Work faculty. “By the end of the year, they had a group of friends. So I could observe that directly. That’s probably the most direct impact, and that’s the purpose of the group: to develop friendships and a community on campus.”
Last year was the first time they put on the event, and the attendance for the Out Group steadily grew.
“I think we had a total, over the course of last year, of about 100 different individuals come to the group,” Mercier said. “The most successful program we offered last year was the Out Group. So I think it’s a well-established program on campus now.”
Other than the Out Group, The Pride Center offers many other programs throughout the year, including a student-faculty mixer each semester, an annual drag show, a support group before Christmas and hosts speakers such as Rachel Ochs, who will speak on bisexual advocacy, in October.
For students, the impact of the Out Group seems pivotal.
“Just the fact that we can all get together and be with people that are more similar to us or be with people who are OK with us,” Miller said. “Especially when people grew up in a more negative format and home. They can come here and be who they are. That’s what I like about the Out Group.”