LGBTQ march proceeds despite inclement weather

Editor’s note: This story was revised for accuracy at 10:35 p.m. Saturday.

Braving rain and wind gusts of more than 30 mph, about 30 students, faculty and staff waving signs, rainbow banners and ribbons marched today morning from the Bass Building to the Campus Commons in encouragement of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning community and its supporters.

Many of the marchers wore color bandannas around their heads and over their mouths to honor “The Day of Silence,” an annual day of action to bring attention to anti-LGBTQ name-calling, bullying and harassment. Some of the marchers, including sophomore social work major Shelly Newkirk, one of the movement leaders, declined to comment.

Newkirk and junior social work major Su Harz entered Sadler Hall and met Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Don Mills on the first floor as he made his way down the stairs. The pair presented a bouquet of irises to Mills, saying, “These are for you.” Mills invited them to his office, where the students gave him the bouquet.

“We have a long way to go,” Mills said to the students.

Taking each other’s hand, Newkirk and Harz exited Sadler Hall and joined the march, bound for the Campus Commons.

This spring, Newkirk and Harz co-founded the Iris Reaction, a movement petitioning for an LGBTQ resource center on campus. They also spearheaded a request for a Living Learning Community – themed campus residential housing – for LGBTQ students and their supporters, DiversCity Q LLC, which had been approved for next fall.

The university made headlines on Monday when Chancellor Victor Boschini announced that the university is not launching new LLCs next fall and that a committee will review whether LLCs conflict with the university’s academic mission. The LLC program began in the 2008-2009 academic year in Samuelson and Carter halls, which house LLCs such as Green House and Health and Wellness. The plan was to expand LLCs to the Tom Brown-Pete Wright apartments in the fall.

The march, which began with about 20 people in the Bass Building at 11:45 a.m., picked up about 10 more people as it progressed to the Campus Commons. When the march reached its destination after weathering the worst of the storm, Newkirk distributed small rainbow flags to the marchers, who planted the flags on the grassy area in the Campus Commons.

“Thank you for coming,” a marcher said, after which the participants scattered.

Multimedia editor Jason Fochtman and staff reporter Justin White contributed to this report.