Teaching Tolerance on Campus

Michaela Shaw ’16, Staff Writer

Director of the Office of LGBTQ Services Brian Patchcoski teaches Safe Zone training program.

Director of the Office of LGBTQ Services Brian Patchcoski teaches Safe Zone training program.

Since Brian Patchcoski, director of the office of LGBTQ services, arrived at Dickinson last fall, he has been planning the new Pride @ Dickinson Safe Zone Program. The Safe Zone training was launched in January of this year.

The Safe Zone training is designed to teach allies how to better support members of the LGBTQ community by educating students, staff and administrators on sexual orientation and gender identity. The training this semester was divided into two sessions, each lasting an hour and a half. Next year Patchcoski plans on having just one three-hour session.

Patchcoski explained that while this program is similar to the old Safe Space program, the Safe Zone training takes it a step further. The old triangular rainbow stickers are being phased out and replaced with placards and buttons given to people who have completed the training and signed a “statement of understanding.”

“That first rainbow symbol really was a powerful ‘this is the first step.’ Now we’re taking this further. We’re going to take it to education and awareness…to make sure we’re all at a base-line understanding of what this might mean for the community,” he said.

So far, the program has been well received; 88 people participated this semester.

“I walked into the library and somebody who had went through the training…was actually wearing their pin and I’m like ‘oh that’s so cool!’ So it’s exciting to see it now becoming part of the culture,” said Patchcoski.

“The training was terrific. It is amazing how much we don’t know about the communities we live in and with,” said Ellen Kelley, a member of the library staff. “I learned so much about the challenges of the LGBTQ community and while Dickinson is committed and moving forward, we still have work to do…I would encourage anyone to take the training. A small investment of time could mean so much to a young Dickinsonian, or a colleague or a family member. You just don’t know who might need you to step up!”

The program will continue in the Fall Semester.

“It’s definitely something that I think will have a snowball effect over time with more and more people signing up for it…it will create a visible community,” concluded Pride Coordinator Josh Davis ’13.