BGALA adopts more inclusive name, statement
The ASUA Senate last night approved changes to both the name and mission statement of the most prominent UA gay, lesbian and bisexual organization in an attempt to make them more reflective of the group's membership.
Formerly known as the Bisexual, Gay, and Lesbian Association, the organization will now go by the name of Pride Alliance.
Karren Seely, director of Pride Alliance, told the Associated Students of the University of Arizona the former name and mission statement did not include reference to the UA transgender community.
"I was surprised that I was the only transgender student here," she said. "I think that this is because the name is not all inclusive."
Seely, an aerospace engineering and music education junior, said the former BGALA acronym may have confused students interested in the organization.
"In my experience, just the name alone can be a factor," she said. "If there is no T in the name, then it might be thought of as not transgender friendly."
Seely, who has been a member of BGALA since September 1998, also said her personal experience was important when initiating the changes.
"I did not even bother looking into BGALA," she said. "I didn't think it was transgender friendly."
Along with the change in name, ASUA Administrative Vice President Viviane Safrin approved the restructuring of the club's mission statement.
According to the former statement, "BGALA provides education and information on Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual concerns to the greater campus community. BGALA also addresses Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual (LGB) alienation on campus."
In accordance with the club's new name, the restructured mission statement states that, "ASUA Pride Alliance works with the campus and surrounding community organizations, leaders, and members toward the maintenance of ASUA Pride Alliance as a social and educational resource center for the campus community and for the purpose of fostering a supportive, positive, and safe environment for individuals of sexual, affectional, and gender diversity."
Seely said new name will properly convey the mission of the organization.
"In the GLB community, the word 'pride' alone has had a connotation to GLB pride," she said.
Rey Vasquez, a member of Pride Alliance, agreed the new changes will help the organization.
"It's going to help us out," he said. "The mission of the statement is now found in the name."
Vasquez added that the Pride Alliance's name and mission statement should convey that the organization is more than just a club.
"People think of us as just another club, but we are a student resource center," he said.
Safrin said change of the club's mission statement was needed, and the new wording more indicative of UA community acceptance of alternative-lifestyle students.
"In accordance with the new name, it's significant that the new mission statement is also more inclusive." she said. "I feel that this is the most positive thing the community has done for the gay, lesbian, and bisexual students on campus because everyone needs to be welcomed."
"The change further enforces the desire to seek unity and equality," she said. "I'm really excited."
Safrin added that the members of Pride Alliance decided upon the changes two weeks ago, and they welcome a positive reaction.
"This way they don't feel that they are alone and different from the rest of the students," she said. "They were really excited about it and wanted to get started."
Seely said BGALA was integral in her development as a UA student.
"I was a returning student after a one-year hiatus. When I returned, I did not have many friends," she said. "I met a lot of new people and new friends because of it. It helped me socially and made me more self-confident."
She also said the restructured mission statement will help further the organization's intents.
"I think this is a good start," she said. "We wanted more direction. We wanted to know exactly where we wanted to go with it."
ASUA Sen. Ahmad Saad Nasim said the organization also helps heterosexual students who have alternative-lifestyle friends.
"From my perspective, I think the organization makes people feel more welcome," he said. "It helps not only the students involved, but also their friends and family members."