Members of the student affinity group “No Labels” chat with alumni while making colorful crafts in celebration of Pride Month—which occurs in June.
At Culver, students celebrated Pride Month a few weeks early. While typically honored in June, student club No Labels officially kicked off Pride with a celebration during Alumni Weekend. No Labels is a student club that celebrates LGBTQ+ identities, raises awareness, and promotes inclusion. The group wanted to host this event for alumni to make crafts, meet current students, and share the importance of the club, their event, and affirm all members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Katie Sewell, CGA counselor and longtime Summer Schools and Camps employee and alum, offers Ally Training on campus for adults to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community, experience, and how to promote inclusion through allyship at Culver and beyond. “I was really appreciative of all of the support from Diversity and Intercultural Life when students came to kick off ally training for adults, which was a student-driven initiative.” says Sewell, who has continued to offer and update the initial ally training years after initial students who approached her for their Senior Service project graduated.
Another CGA counselor with deep ties to Culver also reflected on how the Culver community is showing more signs of welcome for LGBTQ+ students. Jai Hayes, an alumna of the Winter School, believes that many of her LGBTQ+ classmates remained closeted during their time at Culver, and sometimes resorted to homophobia to feel more belonging in what they perceived as an unreceptive community. She contemplates how a different environment would have affected her classmates. “I think about how different those kids may have behaved if there had been a safe space for them to realize that they had lots of allies who supported who they are and that there was nothing wrong with their sexual orientation.” While Hayes acknowledges that the Culver community still has a lot of opportunities for growth in building an inclusive and affirming environment, she feels that “Culver is actively seeking ways to create an equitable and inclusive environment for our students to flourish and be better citizens of the world.”
A rising CMA third-classman echoes Hayes’ optimism. “[Culver Pride] may be a very small event for now, but this could be the start of something truly amazing.” The student deeply appreciated meeting alumni who returned to campus for Reunion Weekend, and learned about their experiences in previous years, when students made do with informal friend groups. Remarking on the ways in which No Labels and events like Culver Pride can advance Culver’s mission of whole-person education, he says “I see No Labels as engaging and building presence rather than just existing.” Indeed, Culver’s mission to develop conscientious future leaders necessitates that students move beyond mere existence to full engagement. The first Culver Pride is another step in this direction for many LGBTQ+ students.