William Jewell College offers several clubs and organizations in which students can participate and be involved. With the new 2018-2019 school year, these groups have welcomed change and new members.
One of the groups to receive newfound attention is QUILTBAG (Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual, Asexual/Aromantic and Gay), a club for the LGBTQ+ community and allies.
The 2018-2019 board has made changes within the club for the new school year, as they wish to make the organization somewhere that any and all can come to and be a part of a welcoming community.
“In past years, it felt like it ostracized people of certain identities,” said Alex Rosell, QUILTBAG president and junior music performance major.
The organization has made it clear to the Jewell community that this will not be the case for QUILTBAG this year. One of the first goals of the year is to make it clear that all students are welcome, including allies of the queer community.
The club is meeting in the new multicultural space, on the second floor of the Yates-Gill Union. This new space was created with the exact mission QUILTBAG has – to create a place of acceptance and a strong sense of family for anyone (on campus), not just a select few.
“This year we’re trying to reach out to all demographics – faculty, staff, anyone,” Rosell said.
She emphasized how the board members are working to make the organization for those who are a part of different cultures and identities.
“[The organization] was set up more like club meetings [in past years]. We want this to be a safe space and an organization where people can do things and be active. We’re switching up the format,” said Spencer Ruwe, QUILTBAG vice-president and junior vocal performance and musical theatre major.
The organization plans to have three meetings per month and have the layout of meetings reflect their mission of fostering active membership in the LGBTQ+ community. Board members plan to organize meetings so each month one meeting is centered around education and information, one on business matter and one on bonding among club members.
On Tuesday Sept. 11, the meeting focused on education. Members went over what the acronym of QUILTBAG stands for. However, these meetings are not just for lectures. Everyone is encouraged to be a part of conversations and inform others on aspects of the LGBTQ+ community that may not be commonly represented.
The club is organized so that members can plan on how to be actively involved, and how to encourage other students to join. Events are already being planned and will be advertised soon.
In November, QUILTBAG will put on a Broadway Backwards event, where performers will act and sing in a role in which their character is not the gender with whom they identify. This event is intended to be an entertaining way to show how gender norms can be challenged and to shed light on all the possibilities for the LGBTQ+ community.
Other events include a multicultural open mic night during second semester, Peace Week – a week where QUILTBAG will promote their club – and awareness days such as bi-visibility day or trans-visibility day and more.
Ruwe said the main mission of the activities is to show that QUILTBAG is “creating unity and peace throughout the campus.”
The meetings designated for members to simply be together are reserved for discussion and enjoyment of both each other’s company and the group’s bond.
The open hearts and minds expressed towards the organization reflect how Jewell strives to be an accepting and open community. The first meeting Aug. 28 garnered over 20 interested people of different identities.
“I personally am very excited to connect the queer community on campus. I feel like a lot of times you have cliques within the queer community,” Rosell said.
QUILTBAG strives to be more than a clique, and the organization has many team members who are excited for the future of Jewell’s own queer community.
Meeting times are Tuesdays from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the multicultural room in the Yates-Gill Union, and anyone is welcome. A brief synopsis of each meeting will be posted on YouTube at the meeting’s conclusion.
Photo courtesy of Maggie Knesel.