October is National Disability Awareness Month and Queer and Trans History Month – observances that fill Ramapo’s campus with informative and exciting events over the course of the month. The Women’s Center hosts several discussion groups for students in different communities to have a safe place on campus to express their opinions and emotions throughout the entire school year.
The center puts up posters with details of their discussion groups all around campus to attract as many students who may benefit from these groups as possible.
Currently, there are six discussion groups for the LGBTQ+ community on campus that meet regularly: Inqlusive, Violet, Men4Men, Real Men Real Talk, Sister Connections and MAST.
Maria Martinez, the Student Equity and Diversity Peer Educator at the Women’s Center, explained the purpose and necessity of these groups.
“Ideally our space exists as a way for all of these people to come and learn about things,” Martinez said. “But a lot of the times we find that people aren’t really comfortable coming in here, whether it’s like the name, or they just don’t want to, or they’re still questioning or they don’t want to be out or anything like that.”
Martinez stressed the efforts the center makes in ensuring students will be as comfortable as possible.
“These groups are all confidential,” she explained. “The groups are usually held at night, when classes are all finished, so as many people as possible can come. The doors are usually closed so no one can see who’s in here. A lot of people just wouldn’t feel comfortable going to a big event in the middle of the day. So, this is a way they can come and talk to other people. If they’re questioning, they can try and figure out how they actually feel in a safe place where no one can tell anyone else outside of the group.”
All of the groups are peer-to-peer discussions, but each one applies to a different section of the community.
Inqlusive is for anyone questioning their sexuality or gender.
“Inqlusive has a pretty good attendance, and I think everyone who goes there gets a lot out of just talking through things, or sharing their experiences or relating to people who have similar experiences,” Martinez explained.
Violet, for LGBTQ+ women, was founded by Grace Maute, the Office Manager at the Women’s Center.
“Anyone who identifies as a woman and is also attracted to women can come and talk about various topics that affects their community,” Martinez said.
Mirroring Violet, Men4Men is for LGBTQ+ men. This group was founded by Adam Choinski, the men’s outreach coordinator at the Women’s Center.
Real Men, Real Talk takes a look at things like “masculinity, current events, gender stereotypes, men's health and other men's issues,” including what it means to be a man in today’s society.
“Real Men, Real Talk is supposed to be for men to just talk about masculinity,” Martinez said.
MAST, or Men Achieving Success Together, is for men of color. Similarly, Sister Connections is “for women of color on campus to find support and community with other women of color,” according to the Women’s Center’s Facebook page. The Women’s Center offers services to all students of all backgrounds and from all communities on campus. It is located in C-220 near the Fishbowl.