‘Safe zones:’ are they really needed at CLU?

California Lutheran University is home to a program known as Safe Zone, which is defined as a group of Cal Lutheran faculty and staff who all share supportive beliefs in regards to the gay community and underrepresented racial/religious groups on campus.

When first assigned this article I immediately held the opinion that Safe Zone is a solid, positive program, and promotes acceptance for all on campus

While I still do think highly of the faculty and staff involved and the Safe Zone within itself and what it stands for, my opinion has been altered throughout the process of writing this article.

“I think it’s important to support diversity, and being trained as a Safe Zone ally has helped keep me sensitive to the challenges and prejudices various students face on campus that I might otherwise overlook,” said Dru Pagliassotti, chair of the communication department, and Safe Zone ally.

The faculty and staff that choose to be Safe Zone Allies provide a safe environment to those in need and choose to help advance Cal Lutheran’s progress toward a campus free of any form of harassment or discrimination. They are also there to offer a listening ear and educate others on those who identify differently.

The allies participate in a two-day process of training that goes over a variety of topics such as the responsibilities of the ally and advocate, identity development, and supportive attitude the allies can project.

“I think it’s good that teachers address it so that students know that everyone is equal and there should be no problems with other students,” Junior Andrew Turley said. “If a professor let me know they were accepting of the LGBT community, I would feel so much better about talking to them.”

Cal Lutheran promoting safe zones is an obvious step in the right direction in promoting acceptance for all, however I cannot help but question the necessity for the program in its entirety?

Why does Cal Lutheran feel the need to promote gay acceptance in such an apparent way by placing prominent stickers on allies’ doors stating Safe Zone? It is difficult for me to comprehend how the university plans on advancing acceptance when they are deliberately individualizing those of sexual and cultural identities. Isn’t the primary point of acceptance to make it a societal norm to the extent in which being gay or that of a different culture does not need to be directly promoted?

All of the Cal Lutheran campus should be known as a Safe Zone. There is no need to individualize those of the LGBT community. Any sexuality should be seen as normal, encouraged and accepted. Although the Safe Zone program holds positive morals and ideals, those who benefit from the program should not need these zones to feel “safe,” or “accepted” at Cal Lutheran.

“Ideally, the entire campus would be a Safe Zone… or maybe no Safe Zones would be necessary at all… but until then, the program is an important step toward building and promoting a campus climate of acceptance,” Pagliassotti said.

It is refreshing to feel that Cal Lutheran is home to a positive atmosphere with supportive, engaging staff and genuine people.

“Even though the school is Lutheran and conservative, I have yet to have any issues with any of the students. I’ve received nothing but love. And even if someone wasn’t accepting, I would respect their views sexually just as they should accept mine,” Turley said.


Jessy Corsello

Published December 10, 2014