Pierce Pioneer

Ask the Raider Bird

Submit your questions to the Raider Bird and he will answer them!

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Dear Raider Bird,

Do you like to dance, and if so what kind of dance move you like to do?

How do you not trip?

 

Hi there.  These two questions go well together.  You would think with these big talons I might have trouble walking and dancing.  I will say that going up stairs can be tough.  But I get around best by dancing!

It’s easier to not step on my own toes when I’m shaking my tail feathers.  If you see me, I’m usually shuffling my way around the halls.  There are few things I enjoy as much as dancing.

My favorite dance move is the “cabbage patch.”  This one came from a music video “The Cabbage Patch,” in which the dance was performed by the Gucci Crew II.  It’s an easy dance move.  You just put your hands together, and move them together in a circular motion.  Imagine you are stirring a really big bowl of cake batter with a huge spoon.  Then just groove with it while your work that cake batter!

Questions acknowledge LGBTQ community

Anna Wolfe Staff Writer

Students who register for courses starting in May are prompted for the first time to answer two new questions: “What is your sexual orientation?” and “What is your gender identity?” These questions, according to faculty, have been added to the registration process in order to better understand and serve the student body at Pierce College.

Nancy Houck, Dean of Student Success, said, “The information will give us just some general direction as to what services we might be able to provide.”

Debra Gilchrist, Vice President for Learning and Student Success, said lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) students from community colleges around the state approached their administrations, demonstrating their desire to be more visible to the college and identified in different ways.

“They were an invisible population. They’re not seen. They wanted programming to be able to be addressed in their direction,” Gilchrist said. “They thought that if the college knew how many LGBT students there were, it might change the kind of programming and services that the college offered.”

Gilchrist said these students laid the groundwork for implementing the new questions. She said the information will promote additional accommodations for these students.

“The transgender students, in particular, were looking for more single restrooms, so that there were gender neutral restrooms,” she said. “They were looking for the forms to have something on there that identified them, because right now all the options are male female, and some of them would not check those boxes. So where are they seen?”

Gilchrist said the recognition of the LGBTQ students might also influence the types of speakers the college hosts and the way the college uses wording in signs or policies.

There has been a mixed response from students regarding the new questions which, Gilchrist said, is contingent upon each student’s approach to identity deviance.

“LGBT students will think ‘Wow, this is great for me because now I see that I can have an identity,” she said. “Or a straight student may say ‘Oh isn’t that great, someone else’s identity is being recognized.’”

Gilchrist said students who may view the questions negatively do so because their experience has been that sexual identity should be closeted, or is a detail people should be afraid to reveal. This is inconsistent with the experience of many LGBTQ students who wish to be identified, Gilchrist said.

The questions are in multiple-choice form, including the option “prefer not to answer.” The sexual orientation question can be answered with: bisexual, gay, lesbian, queer, straight/heterosexual, other, or prefer not to answer. The gender identity options include: feminine, masculine, androgynous, gender neutral, transgender, other, and prefer not to answer. The purpose of providing these various answers is to give the student the chance to voice exactly how they see themselves, Gilchrist said, by giving the most diverse range of answers possible.

Jennifer Maclin, a Sociology professor at Pierce, said she expects some resistance, along with many “prefer not to answer” results, due to students questioning the anonymity of the data.

“Since their names and info are tied to it – I think a lot of people won’t disclose,” she said. Maclin also said it is important for students to understand the terminology in order for them to check the right answer.

“Queer is different than gay in that it isn’t really about liking your ‘same sex’ like we think. It is actually more of an umbrella term describing an individual than a straightforward sexual orientation.”

Gilchrist said allowing students to be identified exactly the way they wish is fulfilling Pierce’s responsibility to its students.

“We want to be a college that is open to everyone. Everyone is welcome here; that’s been our mission all along. I think we have a responsibility to every student to be fair, to see that student for the full person that they are,” she said. “We see you, we recognize you, and to the degree you want to be seen within Pierce College, we want to honor you.”

Houck said the questions validate Pierce as a community that values its diversity.

“Clearly, Pierce College, especially Ft. Steilacoom, and more so Puyallup as years goes on, is a very diverse student population. We realize that students come to us with very unique situations and needs, and any way that we can determine what those needs are I think is just a positive for the students,” she said. “So this would just be one more way of learning about our student population.”

More information including a video made by students to explain the purpose for the questions can be viewed at diversity.highline.edu/lgbtq.php.

 

 

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