This Letter to the Editors was submitted by Dan Loyas and Stef Clark, a first-year and senior student (respectively) at Concordia College.
This year almost two dozen Cobbers participated in the 20th annual Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference. The theme of this event was “the Butterfly Effect,” which served the purpose of highlighting “the profound impact of our individual and collective actions as we strive to create a more equitable and just world,” as per our conference handout booklet. We can most certainly say that, on many levels, MBLGTACC did just that for all of us. In at least one of the three vans traveling back to Moorhead at the conclusion of the weekend, we discussed the weekend’s plethora of speakers, keynote presenters and various workshops we had all attended. But more importantly, we discussed how the lessons we’d learned at MBLGTACC could be applied not only in our lives but also in the life of Concordia’s campus. After all, isn’t that the point of BREW, we argued? To take lessons that we’d learned and apply them intelligently, critically and effectively in the world around us? Sure, the Concordia bubble was a rather small place to BREW, but it was definitely a start.
Or at least, so we believed at the time. The authors of this piece are surely not the only students who have been consistently bogged down by homework, not to mention the ever-encouraged extracurriculars and, a necessary part of attending Concordia it seems, actual paid work. Between being conscientious of our grades, our finances and our personal lives, there seems to be little to no time at all left for accomplishing a goal so often stressed of Concordia students. How is it even possible to Become Responsibly Engaged in the World if we don’t even have time to leave the library after studying all night long? Or when going on tour for any number of musical activities? When we finally found time to meet to discuss the article we’d been meaning to write since February 12th, almost one month had passed us by, and all of the BREWing dreams we’d had earlier had been replaced by an all-work, no-play mentality.
To add insult to injury, those of us who did manage to BREW even on the smallest scale after returning from the conference found our efforts to be at the best tolerated but normally just ignored. Gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, transgender, allies– everyone returned to an atmosphere all too common to this part of the country. “Minnesota Nice” prevailed, and instead of creating dialogue with others when sharing our experiences, we were mostly met with the polite “Oh, that’s nice” and sent on our way. How is it possible to create conversation, to be open about our experiences, to BREW when hardly anybody, it seems, really wants to hear what we have to say? After all, LGBTQ rights and issues are still pretty touchy subjects nationwide, let alone in this small area of the upper Midwest. On a smaller scale, Concordia’s liberal learning goals encourage a development of intercultural understanding—even on the basis of gender and sexuality. The LGBTQQIAA community arguably has its own culture worth understanding, but when we resort to what is commonly deemed “polite” behavior to deal with an issue with which we are uncomfortable, is silence and ignorance really the best way to proceed? Apparently so, or at least that has been our impression since arriving back on campus. Even off campus it is extremely difficult to have honest conversations regarding the issues we addressed at MBLGTACC.
So tell us, how can Concordia really ask us to BREW if not all areas are equally subject to exploration and dialogue? As it turned out, it was even a struggle to receive funding from the college to attend this conference; what does this say about BREW-ing? That only certain avenues are acceptable to Become Resonsibly Engaged within? Because we certainly don’t remember that being a part our Inquiry Seminars and college orientation.