EWU celebrates 10 years of Pride Week


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EWU has celebrated Pride Week for the past 10 years.

By Kaisa Siipola, Reporter

This year marks the 10th Annual Pride Week at EWU which celebrates and emphasizes LGBTQ+ issues and identities with a week full of events and activities on campus from April 29 to May 3.  

The theme for this year’s Pride Week, “Queer Today, Queer Tomorrow,” was inspired by the idea that members of the LGBTQ+ community aren’t planning to go anywhere, according to Pride Center manager Nick Franco.

“It is important that we have events, like Pride Week and Lavender Graduation, because that sends the message that EWU is, or at least aims to be, welcoming and accepting,” Mimi Marinucci, professor of philosophy and women’s and gender studies, said in an email to The Easterner.

Pride Week concludes with the 10th Annual Lavender Graduation. The graduation is a cultural celebration recognizing graduating LGBTQ+ students and allies from the entire Cheney and Spokane region including high school and community college students, on May 3 at 6 p.m. in the Hargreaves Reading Room.

Director of Student Activities, Involvement and Leadership Stacey Reece has worked at EWU during all 10 years of Pride Week.

Reece will be in her 18th year at EWU coming up in August and supervised the Pride Center when it began in 2009-2010. Students held a rally to have a Pride Center on campus around the 2006-2007 school year.

“It took time to figure out funding to support the center and the staffing needs, especially since the university was going through budget cuts in 2007 and 2008,” Reece said.

To me, having Pride Week, shows for people who don’t come to the Pride Center that there is a place where you can feel comfortable and that there are people that you can reach out to if you ever have any difficulties.”

— Jordan McGee, Eagle Pride Club Co-President

The original person who started the Lavender Graduation was Sandy Williams, the Pride Center coordinator at the time.

“This was an event that was very dear and near to her heart,” Reece said.  

Reece loves the feeling and energy that she gets when attending the Lavender Graduation.

“Just the sense of pride and accomplishment and kind of the ownership of who you are becomes really apparent in that moment,” Reece said.

The Pride Center was originally under the student affairs category and was switched to the diversity and inclusion category on Sept. 1, 2017 according to Franco.

The Pride Center and Pride Week complement each, showing how EWU’s campus has changed and maintained conversations on LGBTQ+ issues on the forefront to support students, according to Franco.  

“I think Sandy, who was the first manager of the Pride Center, really kinda brought the conversations forward that folks weren’t really talking about as far as identity expression,” Reece said. “I think Nick Franco, since they have been here, has even escalated that conversation in the sense that we have gender-neutral bathrooms, we are talking about identity and self expression more so in the last couple of years than I believe we ever have.”

EWU’s campus has changed dynamically from a logistical standpoint since having Pride Week, according to Franco.

“People are reaching out to me well in advance to figure out or ask when Pride Week is so that they don’t program over it,” Franco said. “Which indicates to me that they recognize the event as being really important and that they want to make sure that we get a whole week to ourselves.”

Co-president of the Eagle Pride Club Jordan McGee said that this is her third year as a participant.

“To me, having Pride Week, shows for people who don’t come to the Pride Center that there is a place where you can feel comfortable and that there are people that you can reach out to if you ever have any difficulties,” McGee said.

Franco hopes that students gain a sense of affirmation from Pride Week.

“Sometimes just seeing rainbows on campus has this way of making you feel like I’m seen and heard,” Franco said. “I want them to feel like they matter, there are people who care about them, there are people who are like them on campus … And that it is OK for them to be themselves on campus.”

The Pride Center partnered with several organizations on and off campus including Community Colleges of Spokane, Counseling and Psychological Services, Diversity and Inclusion Office, Eagle Entertainment, Multicultural Center, the President’s Office and Student Activities and Involvement & Leadership while putting together the events.

If any graduating student is interested in more information, including how to register, visit the Lavender Graduation web page: https://sites.ewu.edu/pridecenter/lavgrad/.  

Guests and students will not need to register for the Lavender Graduation.