On Tuesday, March 1, Gay Lesbian Or Whatever (GLOW) released a list of demands across campus, communicating their requests through a spate of posters, a reading in Kaplan’s Café, as well as through an emotional discussion with Lawrence staff and faculty.
According to the organization’s Vice President-elect and sophomore Dan Thomas-Commins, GLOW members gathered in the Diversity Center around 10 a.m. to print out the posters and prepare for the day. Meanwhile, two members of the organization presented the demands to the President’s Committee on Diversity Affairs’ (PCDA) meeting that morning.
The demands focused on increasing students’ access to gender-neutral housing, bathrooms and locker rooms. Other demands called for the discontinuance of deadnaming, a greater ability to change preferred names and pronouns as well as the implementation of mandatory safe space training.
In the afternoon, GLOW members worked in pairs to post the demands around campus. Thomas-Commins stressed the importance of ensuring the safety of all members throughout the process, and working in pairs was one means for doing so. “This was a need-to-know operation for the most part. We like to keep it pretty quiet for everyone’s safety,” added Thomas-Commins.
Around 4 p.m., GLOW members went to GLOW house to assemble signs and seal their mouths using duct tape. They then walked to Kaplan’s Café where they read their demands aloud. Thomas-Commins quoted current GLOW President Nebal Maysaud, who said at the reading: “And if these demands are not met, we will just need to scream louder.”
GLOW members then proceeded to Memorial Hall, where they had a meeting with President Mark Burstein, Provost Dean Burrows and Vice President for Student Affairs Nancy Truesdell among several other staff andwfaculty members. The meeting was planned in advance to coincide with the release of the demands and the public demonstration.
At this meeting, the demands were read chronologically. GLOW members also shared personal experiences related to the specific demand being read. “All of these demands have come out of members’ personal experiences,” freshman and GLOW Publicity Secretary Caleb Smith explained. “There are a lot of emotions tied up in them.”
Thomas-Commins said President Burstein thanked the members for sharing their experiences and described the demands as both “reasonable and appropriate.” Thomas-Commins and Smith both expressed contentment with the response received from administration, adding that GLOW members felt as if their voices were finally being heard.
Concerns regarding the anti-activist climate around campus were also addressed at the meeting. “This campus has a problem with response to activism. Personally, I have seen that changing—a lot of the conversations I’ve had have been widely positive, with people I’ve never spoken to before.”
However, not all of the response from the student body was positive. Smith points out that there was “a lot of blatant transphobia from students on this campus” in response to the demands. An anonymous GLOW member mentioned that they “had to cut contact with quite a few people that [they] considered friends” due to negative responses. Thomas-Commins noted that some of the signs were removed and that many disappointing and offensive comments appeared on the anonymous social media platform Yik Yak.
Despite the mixed response to the list of demands, GLOW believes that the list will help lead to positive change. As Smith said, “We are not asking this to all happen overnight. We are asking for a discussion and for progress to be made over time.”