W&J conducts Safe Zone training to enhance inclusivity on campus

Created: November 1, 2018
Last Updated: December 20, 2019

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WASHINGTON, PA (Nov. 1, 2018)—Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) is conducting Safe Zone training for faculty, staff and students to increase community education efforts around the LGBTQIA+ community.

Training sessions cover key terminology and pronoun usage, hot topics that impact the LGBTQIA+ community, and resources on how to make campus a safer space.

Coordinator of Inclusive Campus Engagement Sammie Walker (she/her) and Visiting Scholar in Residence for Inclusion Initiatives Ian Khara Ellasante (he/him and they/them) are leading sessions for students and employees. Those who complete the program will receive stickers they can display to signify that they are Safe Zone trained and could be a resource for students. Safe Zone training has been conducted at W&J before, but the new program will provide updates in the education available. Many faculty and staff members have asked for continued training, and more than 30 faculty and staff registered for the two training dates within 6 hours of it being made available.

“It’s awesome to see the demand for it here,” said Ellasante, who previously served as a Safe Zone facilitator at University of Arizona. “One of the reasons it’s really important to continue to offer training is that the knowledge and information available is always evolving. Completing this training is not just checking off a box here—it’s providing a service for our community on campus.”

The training aims to show how to incorporate inclusive practices in everyday interactions.

“We want to show small changes people can make, and that it’s okay that it takes practice,” Walker said. “This is not the end-all, be-all for training, but it’s a great start. We also want folks to feel comfortable connecting with our office, and know that we’re a place that provides support, not only for the LGBTQIA community, but for people from all backgrounds.”

Following the LGBTQIA+ training, the office wants to implement a follow-up course relating to race and gender. Plans for this course are still in development.

“Our number one goal is to provide a safe and supportive environment for students,” Ellasante said. “If parents see safe guards in place, like training for faculty and staff, they may feel more comfortable sending their children here. It’s also generally a great indicator that when campus is a safer place for the most vulnerable communities, it’s safer for everyone.”

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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