By: Ava Mrozik
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y.- While walking down the hall on the third floor of Dunleavy, I noticed that there were signs on a few of the professors’ doors that I have never noticed before. The signs say “NU Safe Place,” and have caught my attention ever since. I began to investigate on what the signs were about by contacting some of the professors who had these signs displayed on their doors.
I soon discovered that the reason for the NU Safe Place signs were to show that those professors had participated in an LGBTQ training session, which was organized through the University of Buffalo about nine years ago. At the time, there was no official NU Alliance or any known organization that provided support for LGBTQ students. As a result of this, a group of Niagara University students decided to bring up the topic to a professor and NU Safe Place was eventually organized. The signs were created by a group of students who were part of the NU Alliance when the organization became official. It was a way to identify who LGBTQ students could talk to and feel safe with.
However, there are now only three professors left in Dunleavy who have the NU Safe Place signs still on their doors. Overtime, the advisors of this NU Safe Place eventually left NU, which has resulted in the idea behind the signs becoming unclear and less familiar to newer students and professors here at NU.
When I spoke to Dr. Carr, a professor from the English department and one of the few professors who still has the sign, she took the time to discuss her own experience with receiving the NU Safe Place signs and how it originally started.
“Once NU Alliance did get recognized by the institution and students knew that there was a place that they could go and talk with others, it wasn’t clear whether we still needed to have these on our doors, but a part of me was saying I couldn’t take it down, like what would it mean if I took it down?” Carr explained.
I also spoke to Dr. McCutcheon, an Associate Professor of Spanish, who explained his experience as well.
“The idea was another venue of support for students who might be feeling like they don’t have a voice.”
McCutcheon thought it was interesting to find out that there is only a total of three professors with signs on their doors that remain here at NU.
After talking to Carr, McCutcheon and students around campus, it seems that this idea of NU Safe Place has slowly faded into a thing of the past. The reason I have become so interested in this topic is because I think it is important for students who are struggling with sexual identity, mental illness, learning disabilities and any other issues to feel like they have multiple places where they can feel safe. I think that NU Safe Place should return and include more faculty members who are interested in training to provide a safe environment for students to find help. A place to talk to someone is one thing, however, feeling safe while being able to talk to a trained professor is whole other story.