Students gather for first LGBTQ+ Chat and Chew of 2017

BY
Staff Reporter

On Thursday evening, students met for the inaugural LGBTQ+ Chat and Chew.

Rebekah Harless-Balmer, coordinator of the LGBT program, indicated she chose the name “Chat and Chew” because the conversation lacks a set topic, and highlights its friendly nature.

Harless-Balmer also said that the informal setting of the Chat and Chews would help students meet and connect with their peers.

“Since we don’t have an LGBTQ center here, we’re trying to create that space…[where] students who identify as LGBTQ could come and try and build that community that they may not be able to build elsewhere,” Harless-Balmer said.

Members of the counseling office also attended the event.

“I think [the counseling office also] came to show support of the event and to try and make connections with some students as well,” Harless-Balmer said. “They do have an invested interest in supporting the LGBTQ community.”

Sophomore psychology major Jessica Pigeon has had a positive experience with the LGBTQ Program at the university. Pigeon said there was no LGBTQ support system at her small, conservative high school, so she appreciates having one here.

“If you’re just by yourself, you kind of look at everybody else and [think] ‘Oh, I’m by myself,’ but there are people I can talk to about things,” Pigeon said. “I can say anything and they won’t look at me weirdly.”

Leah Blachman, a senior food and agribusiness marketing and management major, said she thinks LGBTQ students’ support networks and involvement have grown since she was a freshman.

“I think that college opens up your perspectives a lot and makes you more interested in being friends with all different types of people, rather than sticking with one group,” Blachman said.

Chief of Police Patrick Ogden, Captain Jason Pires and Officer Chris Villaverde from the University of Delaware Police Department (UDPD) officers also came to the event and told students that the department is available for any safety resources they need.

Ogden said the department would focus on community outreach this year. He said the key to student safety was collaboration.

Harless-Balmer said the department came to show their support of the event and attendees. However, some students at the event were unhappy with police presence.

“They spoke at the students,” Sarah Koon, a sophomore medical diagnostics major, said of the police department. “It was extremely unexpected. This event was supposed to be very casual, and that was very formal.”

The Chat and Chew series will continue on the second Thursday of each month. The next meeting will be in Perkins on October 12 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m..

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