Center for Campus Life to host first campus Pridefest


Graphic by Maliah White

Pridefest is an event hosted by Center for Campus Life. It will take place on The Quad Friday from 12-4 p.m.

Alyssa DeWig, News Editor

Center for Campus Life will host the first campus Pridefest Friday on The Quad from 12-4 p.m. 

Brianna Aldana, student coordinator for gender and sexuality resources, proposed the idea of a campus Pridefest event. She said she wanted to give students an opportunity to celebrate Pride since most students are not on campus in June for Pride Month. 

“It was really important for me to give them a space to celebrate and be celebrated, and LGBTQ+ History Month just so happens to be in October,” Aldana said.

Aldana said she incorporated Gender and Sexuality Resources as part of the event because it is a program within the Center for Campus Life. Aldana also collaborated with the Student Government Association for Pridefest. Taegan Garner, SGA president, said SGA will feature a table at the event.

Aldana said she wanted to incorporate SGA due to their newly established administrative vice president position on the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She said SGA contacted her to get involved with the event.

“Pridefest is a great place for SGA to pull in and be able to table, and really show their support for the community, and that SGA supports all the students on this campus,” Aldana said. 

“This isn’t a diverse campus in a lot of ways,” Garner said. “We always like to say it is, and there is diversity, I’m not denying that, but it is largely homogenous. So, I want students to see not only the community, but that they can interact, be involved, participate and support actively.”

Aldana said she began planning Pridefest in August. She reached out to organizations both on and off campus. She said she did this because many students on campus are not from Evansville, so they may not know of many off-campus resources.

She said while it was important for her to reach out to off-campus businesses, she also made sure to include on-campus organizations. 

“Just as I wanted to give SGA an opportunity to show their support visibly and in front of campus, I want departments and offices to be able to do the same,” Aldana said.

Aldana said she wants students to know she is here for them. 

“I want students to know how much support there is for them,”  Aldana said. “The university sees them, cares about them, cares about their success and wants to give them all the tools to be successful.”

Aldana said sexual violence resources, Title IX and The Rainbow Jacket Project are just a few of the organizations who will be featured at Pridefest. There will also be faith-based communities at the event. “As You Are,” a local, inclusive and faith-based organization, and Arbor College Administry, an inclusive on-campus college ministry, will be attending.

Aldana said former pastor Reverend Craig Duke, who was let go from his position after his support of the LGBTQ+ community, will be at Pridefest. 

Aldana said Duke was relieved of his pastoral duties after he appeared on an episode of HBO show “We are Here,” which features drag queens. 

Jenny Garrison, associate director of Center for Campus Life, said their main goal is to support students however they can.

“There’s data out there that says that we have a large portion of our freshman class that identifies as part of the community in some shape or form,” Garrison said. “So we want all our students to know that we see them. But we definitely want to hit this home with our first year students, because they’re still very new into their college experience.”

Aldana, Garrison and Garner want everyone who feels comfortable coming to the event to attend.

“We’re here and we’re going to continue to program,” Garner said. “We’re going to continue to do things, and we want them, when they’re comfortable, to work with us, and build USI for what it can be, in terms of inclusive space.”

Aldana said, “I don’t want people to look at my events and see the LGBTQIA+ community and say, ‘I don’t identify within that community, I can’t go.’ That’s not true. Anyone can go. If you’re not part of the community, you’re an ally, and allies are just as important as members of the community.”

“The people that are there, want you to be there,” Aldana said. “If you want to come but you’re not comfortable, it’s okay.”

Aldana said she wants Pridefest to be an annual event, so if students do not feel comfortable coming this year, they can come next year.

Garner said she also wants students to know Pridefest is for everyone. 

“This is to recognize the LGBTQ+ community, to recognize your students who this is for, and we want you to actively participate and to be a part of that,” Garner said. “Not just to step aside, but to actively learn and engage.”

Imudunie Wijesuriya, junior economics major, said she would like to attend Pridefest. 

“I am a straight person, but I respect everyone on campus and around the world and I would love to attend,” Wijesuriya said. “Be who you really are. It is not something to be ashamed of.”

 Wijesuriya said she thinks Pridefest will help celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.

“This event will help students to stand out and say, ‘I am proud of myself and who I am,’ and it will help them feel safe around campus,”Wijesuriya said. 

Garner said, “I think that with diversity, equity and inclusion, you always know there’s a lot of spaces where people can feel uncomfortable, but what I want students to realize is that this is a comfortable, safe place for all students.”

“It’s not something you need to feel nervous about. It’s going to be a very fun, inclusive event,” Garner said.

Garner said she thinks it’s important for everyone to participate in this event because students who attend may not need the available resources for themselves, but they may have friends or family who do need them. 

Aldana said students can support others they know who are members of the LGBTQ+ community by listening to them and being there for them.

“Do the things that you would normally do to be a good friend,” Aldana said. “I don’t think that there’s a specific formula. Don’t treat your friends differently, because I think sometimes people think that they have to.”

Garner said SGA wants to hear from the LGBTQ+ community to see what they need and what they want to see on campus. 

“We want to plan something that benefits the community and those students, and that’s not just planned without that insight,” Garner said. “This is a great start, but it’s definitely not the end of pride events on campus.”