Bates community to rally today for inclusion, acceptance and support for all

The Bates College community will rally in support of the historic Bates values of inclusion, acceptance and support at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14, in the Library Arcade.

Organized by the student organization OUTfront in collaboration with the Bates College Student Government, the rally comes near the end of Coming Out Week events at Bates. OUTfront is an advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and questioning (LGBTIQQ) individuals.

The rally is a response to an incident early in the week in which an unknown party used hostile language to deface OUTfront messaging chalked on college walkways. Approved by the college administration, the original messaging was created to launch Coming Out Week.

The Bates administration was quick to denounce the incident and to re-emphasize its commitment to maintaining a safe and accepting college community.

“Free expression is essential to our academic community, but defacing another’s presentation with demeaning language and offensive expression is not acceptable,” stated a message to the campus signed by President Nancy Cable; Dean of Students Tedd Goundie; Roland Davis, director of the Office of Intercultural Education; and Heather Lindkvist, special assistant to President Cable for diversity and inclusion.

“This type of incident affects all of us,” the statement said. “All members of our community should feel safe, and all of us can work together to achieve that goal.”

Last week, the college announced a “Safe Space” program in which faculty and staff designate their offices as sanctuaries for LGBTIQQ students, faculty and staff who might need confidential and compassionate support.

On Tuesday, National Coming Out Day, nearly 1,000 students, faculty and staff signed a “Bates Ally Pledge” committing the signer to help lead the campus community in becoming an even more respectful and welcoming place to all individuals regardless of real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

The pledge drive was hosted by members of the Student Athlete Advisory Council and the Athletic Department.

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