PEACE week is an annual series of events hosted by QUILTBAG at William Jewell College. This week serves as a campus wide recognition, and celebration of non-hetero, non-binary pride and equal rights. Following the precedent set by previous cabinets, this year’s QUILTBAG cabinet arranged for the event to be held in April ahead of the national LGBTQ+ pride month.
Morgan Allen, senior Oxbridge music and religion and culture major and president of QUILTBAG, identified cooperation and inclusivity as central motivators in organizing this year’s PEACE week events. Events were intended to develop awareness about QUILTBAG and its relevance as an organization on campus. For this reason, the PEACE week events of this year were all highly visible, with a mixture of activities requiring assertive engagement and others facilitating passive participation. The week’s events were diverse, involving a movie screening, tie dye, STEM pride experiments and a speaker. Each event was planned to increase student awareness and engagement with QUILTBAG, as well as issues facing the LGBTQ+ community.
Allen reported that the overall campus reception to the week’s events was positive. Student engagement in PEACE week activities far exceeded the participation commonly seen in student-run activities. Notable is the fact that 70 people, students and faculty alike, participated in the tie dye event, while nearly 75 t-shirts reading “WJC QUILTBAG, Critical Thought & In-QUEER-y” have been sold to the campus community.
Members of QUILTBAG who were involved in the planning of this week are reportedly pleased that faculty demonstrated a high level of engagement and interest in the events of PEACE week. Allen stated that she “personally reached out and emailed faculty members who had been reported [by QUILTBAG members] to be safe people and invited them to PEACE week events.” This led to the involvement of the science department, particularly through Dr. Rose Reynolds, official title QUILTBAG supporter and faculty advisor, and the STEM pride feature in PEACE week, which culminated in Trevor Nicks presenting a display of rainbow colored elephant toothpaste on the quad.
This year, PEACE week is the last major celebration organized by the current QUILTBAG cabinet and reflected the cabinet’s goals for the year, as outlined here in a feature interview published last September.
Reflecting on the year’s activities and pursuits, Allen admitted that QUILTBAG has not achieved everything that it intended to this year. Specifically, Allen detailed a project in which QUILTBAG members worked to rewrite the campus housing form in order to remove problematic and exclusionary language, ensuring that students are not obliged to conform to gender binaries with which they may not identify. This project, led by Sam Fulte, sophomore biochemistry and applied critical thought and inquiry major and QUILTBAG treasurer, took over three months and involved collaboration with other on campus multicultural organizations. When the reevaluated form was finally submitted to Student Life and later approved, Allen described it as a “big win for QUILTBAG,” the approval being taken as an indication that Student Life and, by extension, the greater Administration at Jewell, were willing to change and intent on achieving progress for students. However, earlier this month, students received a link to the old housing request form, without the accepted changes.
Allen described this event as “frustrating” and emphasized that “language might not seem like a big deal to most people, but to the students affected this really matters.” Allen was sure to emphasize the individuals that have avidly shown support to QUILTBAG and expressed sympathy for the cause. She noted that Dr. Anne Dema, Shelley King and the department of Admissions have shown exceptional support for this community.
Despite the setbacks and the frustrations, Allen is proud of QUILTBAG’s achievements this year and grateful for all of the committed members and allies who continue to stress the necessity of inclusivity on this campus. Regarding the work still to be done, “if it affects one student it affects our campus in a major way. There are not many of us here, only around 900 students, which means that if something affects one of us then we need to be working on that. We need to be working harder” Allen said.