oSTEM (Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is the only student organization that exists on campus to support and promote awareness of LGBTQ (lesbian gay bisexual transgender queer) people on Campus.
“We’re oSTEM, so we include the LGBTQ people on campus. We don’t play a traditional role in diversity, but we take a more modern approach. It isn’t ethnicity, but it’s sexuality, or gender identity. That brings a whole new perspective to it and a lot more people into the picture,” explained Brian Yoon, President of oSTEM.
oSTEM is currently the only student body on campus to address these issues. Blake Jones, the Vice President of Community Outreach, explained some of the club’s responsibilities.
“oSTEM has to fill a lot of different roles on this campus. We have to be the social group, the networking group as, and the advocacy group. These are a lot of different shoes that we have to fill. As a small group, we are stretched very thin,” explained Jones.
In the past, oSTEM has received a lot of push back in regards to the creation of safe zones for LGBTQ people on campus.
“oSTEM puts on safe zones, and they’re geared toward increasing the visibility and awareness of our allies on campus. We have received a lot of negative feedback from the entirety of campus,” Brian Yoon said.
Recently, however, oSTEM has received more support from the campus as a whole, receiving a lot of support from the Title IX office.
It is not just administration that is coming to the aid of oSTEM. oSTEM has been networking with other student organizations to increase their presence and ability to affect campus.
“This year was a big year for networking for us. We just branched out. One of our big events is the Rocky Horror Picture Show we put on every year, but we generally don’t get a lot of people showing up to it because the MAC movie is going on. So we pitched the idea to MAC, and MAC is going to do the Rocky Horror Picture Show for us,” Jones stated.
Looking toward the future, oSTEM hopes that a change in campus culture of focusing on academics only. could positively affect LGBTQ people on campus.
Jones followed this up to explain the importance of being socially aware. He encourages students to stop comparing how difficult their life is with another person. By realizing that everyone around you is having a difficult time, Jones hopes we can progress as a campus.
“I went through my coming out process my freshman year, and that is an extremely difficult processes. That’s one thing that I would love for campus to recognize. You never know what else someone is going through, and for you to “out-complain” someone else is extremely arrogant.”