"Samford Together is the best first step towards giving LGBT students a safe place"
Dear Dr. Westmoreland,
I know you feel that you are choosing the best road for Samford and it students by denying Samford Together. However, I still worry deeply about individuals who will be affected by this ruling. I am talking about the Samford students who are going through this experience with their heads down and their hearts guarded in a closet, trying to just make their way through the difficulties ahead while many of them feel they have to pretend to be someone they’re not.
I had a friend in high school who was a strong and intelligent woman, but she suffered from the pressure of trying to deny her identity as a lesbian. All this suffering pushed her away from joy, kindness, love, and it eventually took her life through overdose. I have a way too familiar understanding of the price of this pain now: seeing my friend’s mother grieve over her child so horrifically lost to her and seeing how our friends fell into chasms of hopelessness after her death. I see this story reflected in every Samford student who does not fit the mold of Samford perfectly. I see them struggling, I see them fighting, and I see them trying to do their best. I also see my friend’s face in theirs, and I know all too well the very real risk that they could one day become too overwhelmed.
Samford as a university has done nothing in the past to help or to reach out to these students, and they have suffered for it. There are faculty members who try to provide whatever comfort and hope they can, but that can only go so far. I, myself, can only know so many of the 5000+ students at Samford, and I am sure there are many more who are feeling lost and isolated over issues of sexuality and gender identity. Samford Together is the best first step towards giving LGBT students a safe place to be able to talk about the issues we face in an open setting. It allows us to start a dialogue to help other students who feel lost, so that they may find a healthy and positive place to belong, too. Perhaps you can not understand these students’ struggles clearly from where you stand, but from my place on this campus, it’s impossible to miss. I hope you’ll reconsider your choice and give Samford Together a chance to thrive.
A current Samford student and Samford Together member