Voice held a booth at ACUFest on Friday being recognized as a peer support and educational group.
Voice, the LGBTQ+ organization on campus, got its start as an underground support group on campus over 10 years ago. Voice became recognized as an official peer support and educational group 2016, but was previously overlooked by student campus leadership until this year. Now the group is entitled to everything other on campus organizations are allowed, such as SGA funding and a spot at ACUFest.
“I want people to understand how big of a deal this is for us,” said Lauren Ramsey, senior early education major from Frisco.
Ramsey serves as the organization’s chaplain and said Voice has given her a home to be herself in a safe and loving environment. Her hope is that Voice can do the same for other students in the LGBTQ+ community, as well as others who want to learn about the community and show their support for it.
“Our mission statement is: ‘Voice exists to support, educate, and inspire people through kindness, clarity, and respect. We give a place that gives voice to the voiceless.’ That’s really what we strive to do,” said Rylee Dawson, junior education major from Victorville, California.
Camii Jolley, senior communications major from Ft. Worth, said Voice wants freshman and any incoming students to know there is a space for anyone to learn and to interact with people, whether they are apart of the community or not.
“It is basically like any other organization on campus where they strive to connect with one another,” said Jolley. “Ours just happens to be involving the LGBTQ+ community, but that’s not our primary focus.”
Dr. Kelly Elliott, associate professor of history and global studies, is one of three faculty sponsors for Voice. She said that although Voice is designed for students who identify as LGBTQ+, there are many people who come who do not identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s very much this inclusive, hospitable, welcoming, affirming space,” said Elliott. “I think there is a recognition there that a lot of the folks who come to Voice don’t feel that affirmation and welcome and security and freedom to be who they are in every space on campus, and so Voice really wants to be that space for those students.”
Now with the recognition on campus, ACUFest is just the first step in what Voice hopes to be continued growth and further university inclusivity of the group.
“I really hope Voice can grow as big as some of these other organizations,” said Ramsey. “I hope it can grow to this organization where it has hundreds or thousands of followers on Instagram, and everyone wants to know what is Voice up to next. I think if we get that same momentum going, it could be this amazing thing where we are educating so many people.”