By: BEKKA OXLEY
Campus Ally Network (CAN) training is set to begin the first week of February this semester. CAN is a program dedicated to supporting and affirming the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and questioning students, faculty and staff at IU South Bend.
More than 100 members of the campus community have cycled through CAN training since the fall of 2008 when the network was launched, according to Linda Young, co-founder of CAN and director of student teaching and clinical practice at IUSB.
“We are proud that we have deans, students, staff and faculty as trained allies,” Young said. “It is powerful to have such diversity of affiliation, of identities, and of life experiences represented in the network. To have such a diverse group of people step up and say ‘I believe in this’ and be actively engaged, is a powerful affirmation of the vision we originally had, and the work that we continue to do.”
CAN training consists of two separate sessions. Wendy Davis, a women’s and gender studies graduate and current English graduate student at IUSB, interned for CAN as an undergrad for her practicum. Davis also co-facilitated CAN training sessions as an intern.
“In the first session, you go through a PowerPoint, listen to a podcast and you have homework assignments,” Davis said. “You have to post on the forum three times. You say a little bit about yourself at first, and then answer more questions about wanting to become an ally. We go through terms, which are changing all the time. In the first session, we also look through the history of LGBTQ and how we got where we are today.”
The purpose of the first introductory session is for students, faculty and staff to gain an understanding of the terms so that by the second session, they won’t be confused on terminology and will be more willing to talk freely about the terms without questioning what they mean or how to use them.
“The second session is a little more about education,” Davis said. “We talk about the policies that are in place at IUSB, in St. Joseph County and throughout Indiana. We also talk a little bit about the policies around the United States. We talk and share stories to help get a little bit more in depth about what goes on in LGBTQ life and help people have an awareness of what the life is like.”
April Lidinsky, director and associate professor of women’s and gender studies at IUSB, said that if individuals choose to become a part of CAN after the two training sessions, they sign a pledge and have the option of putting their name on the CAN website. Upon completing the training, CAN graduates also receive a button and placard so that they can be made visible as allies.
“We wanted CAN to serve a dual purpose, both to train people who needed to learn more about LGBTQ and also to have a visible way on campus, through the placards, buttons, and website, to take a public stand that there are selected people who are willing to be public allies for the LGBTQ community,” said Sara Sage, co-founder of CAN and associate professor of secondary and foundations of education.
Individuals who are a part of the network make it public that they are willing to talk and be helpful sources of information for those who may need it.
“After these two sessions of training, you’re not an expert, you’re not somebody who has to solve things for other people, and you’re not a therapist,” Lidinsky said. “You are somebody who has a heightened awareness of the resources on campus, and somebody who can listen and connect people to other resources.”
Training dates are set up in two different blocks. A block consists of the two sessions needed to complete the training. The first session in each block should be completed via Oncourse. The second session is in person and the locations are tentatively planned for the Education and Arts Building. Room numbers will be assigned after the first session has been completed.
For Block 1, the first session must be completed by Thursday, Feb. 6 at noon. The second session meets in person on Friday, Feb. 7, from noon to 2 p.m. For Block 2, the first session must be completed by Monday, March 3, at 4 p.m. The second session will be Tuesday, March 4 from 4 to 6 p.m.
Students, faculty and staff interested in registering for CAN training may contact Sara Sage at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information, visit www.iusb.edu/ally-network/index.php.