Students help establish Safe Zones on Campus

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Jamie Bowles
The Broadside

Some staff members, instructors and students at Central Oregon Community College are doing what they can to make students feel safe.
A new resource for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered students has been introduced to COCC’s campus.
It’s called a Safe Zone: an area that will be clearly marked with a sign so LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) students seeking a safe person to speak to will know where to go. Designated Safe Zones can be classrooms, or more likely, offices and will have placards with the Safe Zone logo. Anyone wanting to offer a Safe Zone must go through a training. Students can expect to see placards as people start getting trained and Safe Zones get established.
The idea of Safe Zones was brought to campus by Brandi Jordan, student, ASCOCC outreach coordinator and member of the Diversity Committee. Jordan attended a conference titled “How Safe is Your School for LGBT Students?” in St. Louis, MO., October 2011. The topic was “Safe Zones” and how to get them started.
“The very next week I went to see Karen Roth to see what we could do to get something started,” said Jordan.
Roth is the Director of Multicultural Activities at COCC and was excited to have a student take on this project.  It had been talked about for a few years, but there was no one to move forward with it.
“Having these [Safe Zones] is a great way to make it seem more okay to ask the questions,” said Roth.
Starting at the beginning of spring term, brochures will be available that list resources available on campus as well as information about the Safe Zones and how to create a Safe Zone. Safe Zone training will be available to anyone who wishes to participate.
Training took place March 9 with 16 individuals—including Jordan—and Oregon State Univeristy-Cascades and COCC staff, as well as community members.  The participants attended the session in order to become certified Safe Zone trainers for individuals looking to provide a Safe Zone.
“We welcome all members of staff, faculty and students to participate in making our campus a safer, more inclusive place,” said Jordan.
Those interested in becoming a trainer or a Safe Zone provider can contact Karen Roth at kroth1@cocc.edu.

(Contact: jbowles@cocc.edu)

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