Welcoming All Students
The SU Libraries staff works hard to ensure that every Salisbury University student feels welcome in all our facilities. Regardless of background, genetics, experiences, preferences, beliefs or anything else, they are all our students and deserve equal access to our spaces, resources and staff.
This past year, a group of students approached us about hosting a section of the traveling AIDS Memorial Quilt. Partnering with student organizations LGBTQ+ Alliance, Sexual Health and Advocacy Organization, and Sexuality and Gender Awareness, we applied to host the Quilt. The NAMES Project Foundation, which oversees the Quilt, accepted our proposal, allowing us to bring a section of the traveling Quilt to campus in October, which is LGBT History Month.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt, conceived in 1985, is the largest community art project in the world, including more than 49,000 panels commemorating those who have died due to the disease. In 1996, women prisoners at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, CT, created the section of the quilt that came to SU. We displayed it near the Library Service Desk on the first floor of the Guerrieri Academic Commons (GAC), where it garnered a lot of attention and interest.
We also worked with the SU Public Humanities Committee to create programming to help put the Quilt in context by exploring the experiences of LGBTQIA people. A reception celebrated the opening of the Quilt display. Two award-winning films, Major! and Philadelphia, received screenings, and student groups sponsored a drag show. Most impressively, a large crowd gathered for a panel discussion in the GAC Assembly Hall. Titled “Stigma in the Fabric of Society,” the panel featured speakers Dr. Tamar Carroll of the Rochester Institute of Technology; two SU professors, Drs. Michele Schlehofer and Brandye Nobiling; and SU graduate assistant Ken Forest, with Dr. Diane Illig serving as moderator.
A subgroup of our Libraries Diversity and Inclusion Committee worked with the students. The members included Angeline Prichard, research and instructional librarian and our diversity and inclusion coordinator; Amy Jones, head of circulation; Leslie McRoberts, local history archivist; and Robin Vickery, research and instructional librarian. Kudos to them for responding to this student request and helping make students feel welcome at the SU Libraries.