Once Upon a Time, there was a boy who we’ll call… Scarf Boy. Scarf Boy was a freshman at Concordia College and was unsure about how safe of an environment it would be. His high school had some great people, good resources, and a pretty loving atmosphere, but he didn’t feel like he could fully be himself.
When Scarf Boy got to Concordia, however, everything changed. He met some amazing people in his orientation club, joined choir, found the Straight and Gay Alliance and finally felt like there was a place that accepted all of him. He felt so accepted that he expressed his newfound confidence by wearing a scarf. Every. Single. Day. But it didn’t matter; Scarf Boy was home. The End.
M. Night Shyamalan plot twist: I am Scarf Boy. Shocking, right?
I am a living testament of Concordia allowing people to reach their full potential and be themselves in a very real and obvious way. I realized that Concordia nurtures diversity. I am thankful to say that this level of acceptance has not decreased over my 3-plus years here. In many ways, it’s grown.
At this year’s Cobber Expo, the Straight and Gay Alliance had more than 200 Cobbers sign up for our e-mail list. Our advisers checked in on us frequently, people fought over the buttons that said “Marriage Equality is so Fetch,” and Rainbow Sherbet was had by all. Geneva Nemzek and I, the co-Presidents of this student organization/community, were truly blown away by the amount of support we experienced. As I reflected on this outpouring of love, however, I began to reflect on how this experience would have been if my status had been different. Had I been a student of color instead of a gay student, would my feelings of acceptance be the same?
To answer this question, shift away from SAGA and our 200 Cobber sign-ups and toward Black Student Union, another diversity-centered student organization on campus. A few new students signed up, which is helpful, but nowhere near the numbers that SAGA pulled. No adviser checked in on them because there isn’t even one Black American faculty member on campus to advise them. The amount of support they received was far less, and the amount that they needed was far more. Don’t get me wrong, I’m blessed to have this supportive community to rely on. I only wish this community could be extended to students of every diverse background, not just mine.
Had Scarf Boy been a student of color instead of a gay student, perhaps he wouldn’t have felt as empowered as he did. Perhaps he would’ve transferred like many student of color. Maybe he never would have come here at all. To support diversity in one capacity and ignore it in another is just as dangerous as opposing it entirely. Scarf Boy and I both call you to embrace diversity in all its forms so every student can feel comfortable in their scarf.
My name is Colin Sullivan and I am currently a senior at Concordia College majoring in Psychology, Sociology, and Spanish. Along with my classes, I am the co-President of the Straight and Gay Alliance (SAGA) and also participate in Student Government Association (SGA), Cobber Forensics (Speech and Debate), and Choir.
My passions reside within issues of social justice and critically analyzing the ways in which Concordia and society on the whole supports diversity initiatives. I long for an environment within which one’s minority status does not pre-determine their likelihood for success.
Some other random facts about me: I am a Pisces with an inability to digest gluten. I have a debilitating fear of clowns and public restrooms and refuse to ride bicycles. I am 100% Irish, a recovering scarf addict, and my speaking voice is as loud as the average yell.
Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @csulliva09 if you want to chat. I’d love to answer any questions you may have 🙂