Pitt State is home to a wide range of student groups focused on diversity. Empowerment Week was a campus-wide event featuring PRISM, the Black Student Association, Students for Violence Prevention, Hispanics of Today and more. Each group works to bring support and awareness to the various diverse communities on campus.
On the night of Tuesday, March 9 at 5:00 p.m. the students of People for Respect, Integrity and Support Movement (PRISM), an organization devoted to creating safe, engaging spaces for the LGBTQ+ community across the campus of Pittsburg State University, sponsored Queer Crafts, a night of music, bracelets, stickers, and coloring in honor of Empowerment Week. The event was held in the Governor’s Room of the Overman Student Center.
“SVP (Students for Violence Prevention) started this,” said Wren Lowrey, a junior biology major and the current president of PRISM. “Then a whole bunch of organizations got involved to make (Empowerment Week) happen. They said, ‘what can we do each day of the week to empower or affirm a certain group of individuals?’ We got Tuesday, and we decided that, well, what’s more fun than crafting?”
The event consisted of socially distanced tables and chairs scattered with vibrant rainbow stickers, trays of beads, string, and elaborate coloring pages with quotations like “hella brave” and “#fierce.” The speakers played songs from a variety of LGBTQ artists. The event also featured small displays with information provided by both SVP and PRISM. The information ranged from the warning signs of an abusive relationship to the “dos and don’ts” of being an ally in the LGBTQ community.
“Be honest and empathetic,” one of the pamphlets PRISM provided read. “Don’t treat your friend like a walking encyclopedia on all things queer.”
PRISM says becoming an ally as one of the best things a person can do in support of friends, family and other members of the LGBTQ+ community. Audrey Hartwell, sophomore in social work and Spanish, said it is important to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community.
“To be an ally means to just be there in support no matter what people are going through,” Correll said. “Even if you don’t necessarily follow the same lifestyle.”
Madison Correll, freshman in nursing and secretary of PRISM, said being an ally is about showing support and solidarity.
“It’s providing unconditional love and support,” Hartwell said. “It’s always showing that support.”
Several students came to the event in order to experience the open, engaging environment that PRISM strives to create. One such attendee was Erin Kruse, senior in sustainability and political science.
“PRISM has created a space for anyone to come and relax as their own person,” Kruse said. “Which is something I find empowering.”
While the current pandemic makes it much more difficult for PRISM to host events such as Queer Crafts, Lowry has hope for more events throughout the semester.
“We are considering doing a drag show,” Lowrey said. “Though due to Covid and other restrictions we are not certain. We’ll probably do something in April for Pride Month, but for the most part this is our big event.”