Faculty, Staff Ready For `Safe Zone' Training

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When students arrive on the Dominican University of California campus in August, they will find large stickers on faculty and staff office doors identifying the space as safe, welcoming, and supportive for LGBTQ+ students.

This summer, about 30 full-time faculty and staff are completing “Safe Zone” training as part of an initiative developed earlier this year by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) and the University’s Diversity Action Group (DAG). Additional trainings will be held throughout the 2021/22 academic year.

“The goal is to ensure faculty and staff are prepared to serve as role models for inclusivity for our students,” says ODEI Director Stacy Davidson.

The Safe Zone training program is a small-group, multi-session, intensive training that aims to identify, educate, and support members of the  campus community who are dedicated to affirming and supporting LGBTQ+ individuals and causes both on- and off-campus.

The summer training is facilitated by DAG members who earlier this year were trained extensively to lead small groups in order to gain deeper understanding of LGBTQ+ identities and lived experiences; examine the relationship between gender and language; gain a deeper understanding of intersectionality and privilege; and explore ally-ship as it applies to the LGBTQ+ community.

Davidson initiated the DAG “Train the Trainer” programming last spring to prepare 11 DAG members to develop their skills as effective facilitators for the “Safe Zone” program. Allison Constantino from the University’s Registrar’s Office created the content and worked with Davidson to coordinate training. They also collaborated with Dominican’s PRIDE Club and Fel Agrelius, Youth Program Coordinator for the Spahr Center, the Marin nonprofit agency devoted to serving, supporting, and empowering the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

“I would like LGBTQ+ students to know ODEI and DAG are committed to creating an inclusive and equitable environment for them,” ODEI Director Davidson says. “We are committed to doing the work on ourselves to provide safe spaces and advocating for institutional change that has a positive impact on their experience at Dominican. Change starts with understanding self and others and being advocates for an inclusive campus community.”

Jaime Libby ’11, MA ’16, Director of Special Projects in the Office of Academic Affairs, is participating in this summer’s training. She says the work has made her think more critically than ever before about her own role in advancing LGBTQ+ inclusive policies and facilities on campus.

“Dominican is my alma mater and my place of work. For many of our current students, it is also a home. Home should be a place of empathy, open ears, and open hearts, so I am committed to Dominican being just that,” Libby says. “There is so much to learn, and it’s honestly exhilarating and liberating to dive in.” 

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