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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Student leader spotlight: president of SJUPride

Maggie Mallison ’21 focuses on creating safe spaces for members of SJUPride. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

With St. Joe’s students isolated to abide by COVID-19 protocols, chances to connect with fellow students are limited. Each week, The Hawk will offer conversations with various student leaders to help the community get to know them and their organization.

This week’s Q&A is with Maggie Mallison ’21, president of SJUPride, who is from Doylestown, Pennsylvania. 

 What is the mission of SJUPride?

SJUPride is a student-led organization that advocates for LGBTQIA+ identifying students on campus. We work with other clubs, and sometimes even the administration, to advocate for policies and create spaces with other people that are safe for the community.

What led you to join SJUPride and eventually want to become president?

When I first came out, I just wanted to be and exist. So I just was in the club in general. Then, I got closer to people who were on the board at the time, and it looked like the stuff they were doing was really fun. I was the secretary last year, and I just [got along] with everybody. I never thought about a leadership role or planning events like this before I joined. After my first year on the board, I really wanted to be in charge of the way that we ran as a club and what events we did. I wanted to make sure we were giving everybody the opportunity to have a good time being themselves in a safe space.

What has been the most surprising part about being president?

It’s a spotlight in unexpected ways. You can’t tell I’m gay by looking at me, so being president of SJUPride has kind of publicly outed me. It’s unexpected, but it’s interesting.

What impact does SJUPride have on the St. Joe’s community?

It is a different thing for lots of different people. I think that for Campus Ministry, SJUPride is a reminder of a painful past of homophobia in the church, but I think for other organizations in the [Center for Inclusion and Diversity] it’s more of a sibling relationship of ‘Oh, we understand each other’s struggles on St. Joe’s campus.’ Then for clubs like Hawk Hill Productions, we’re just a good community partner. It’s a lot of things for a lot of different people, which is good because I feel like the LGBTQIA+ communities are so diverse with their identities, like gender identity, sexual orientation [and] romantic orientation. 

What can St. Joe’s do to make campus a more welcoming environment for LGBT identifying students, faculty and staff? 

Something that was recently brought to my attention is that trans students, when they’re freshmen, have to get their roommate to sign a waiver saying ‘I agree to live with a transgender person.’ I feel like changing the policies around gender and housing for freshmen would be a step further from the preferred name [policy] because it’s incredibly traumatizing. I do appreciate the pronouns policy, but I feel like there’s more work to be done, and we can’t just sit and celebrate this when we have more to do.

What is your personal mission as SJUPride president?

My personal mission is figuring out and executing a community online that’s just as comfortable, accepting, loving and warm as it was the past year because that’s something that everybody’s struggling with. 

How has SJUPride stayed connected throughout COVID-19 and physical distancing?

We have all of our events virtually now, which is definitely an adjustment. I feel like sometimes Zoom is difficult because you’re not in person to hang out the way that we used to. I have such good memories pre-COVID-19 meetings. We had a self-care meeting, and we had face masks and everybody was trying to walk around without their face masks falling off their face. We still had a self-care night, but you don’t really have the same energy. It’s hard because it’s not something I ever thought we’d have to adjust to, but it’s the new normal.

What is your favorite event that you’ve planned for SJUPride?

In the past, before COVID-19, I really liked planning Lav Grad, which was our celebration for seniors. This year, I planned our Valentine’s Day event which [was] centered around the five love languages, taking Valentine’s Day back from the gift industrial complex and loving yourself, loving your friends and loving your community. I feel like in quarantine, everybody feels isolated and planning an event for Valentine’s Day is more like creating a community out of an idea, and that’s why I like planning events.

Do you have a favorite memory with the executive board (e-board)? 

We had an event in late September, Queeries, where we had panelists answer questions from the audience about our club and being queer on campus. That has to be my favorite because so many [members] of our e-board were in the panel. It was great hearing people that I work with and see every day in a different light. I wouldn’t be such a successful leader without the support of my board. I wouldn’t do anything without them.

What other events does SJUPride have planned for the semester?

On March 20, we have Quest, which is going to be a virtual retreat. We will get together and talk about different topics like spirituality, sexuality and self-care because it’s just a reminder everybody needs. In April, we also have a career panel that we’re putting together. We’re working with the Alliance, which is the faculty counterpart to [SJU]Pride, and that’s going to be about networking and making connections. 

How can students get involved with SJUPride? 

We have a website, and you could also follow us on social media, @sjupride. We have a Google Form in our bio for putting your name on the email list and if you want to join our group chat, it’s just really casual. Our emails go out before we have meetings and events, but the social media is updated more often.

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