by Sabrina Guilbeault ’18
As part of the “PC’s Proud” Week put on by the Board of Programmers and SHEPARD, Paige Clausius-Parks ’03, one of the student leaders who brought SHEPARD into fruition on campus, spoke on Monday night regarding the importance of being an ally for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
PC’s Proud, a series of events promoting visibility, normality, and appreciation of the student body at Providence College, also included a workshop on being an ally yesterday in McPhail’s. They will sponsor the event “Tell Your Story,” where students will be able to share their experiences in an open mic setting, and will be encouraged to engage and discuss love, sexual diversity, and gender identity.
Clausius-Parks kicked off the event by explaining that she is no expert in being an ally. “I just work really hard, think about it, and write about it,” she said. She encouraged the students at the event to listen and ask questions such as, “What does it mean to be brave?,” “Why do we stand up for others?,” and “How do we get that courage?”
She insisted that she did not want to receive all the credit for bringing SHEPARD to campus back in 2003, and stated it was the allies who allowed her and her peers to move forward. She talked about the different types of allies she encountered, such as the 200 “passive allies” who signed the petition saying they believe SHEPARD should be a club on campus. The “silent allies,” such as the friar who told her to keep up the good work as she walked by him on campus, and the “allies of influence” such as the president of her class in Student Congress, who told his peers at a meeting that SHEPARD needed to be on campus.
As a public and community service major while at PC, Clausius-Parks explained that she was estatic that she was able to take what she was passionate about and turn it into a career. “I learned a lot about courage,” she said. “It’s belief in something larger than ourselves and finding comfort in the discomfort.” Clausius-Parks currently works at Books are Wings, a literacy non-profit organization in Rhode Island that provides books to children across the state.
At the end of her story, she welcomed questions from the audience and even asked questions of the students present. She explained that one of the biggest aspects of being an ally is promising to do better next time. She believes there is no such thing as a missed opportunity, and going back to a conversation after accidentally saying the wrong thing is extremely powerful.
“Plug into what is happening,” she said. “Keep reflecting and get into your own groove. Not everyone has the same experience as you do.”
When asked if she ever felt like giving up during her mission to get SHEPARD onto campus, she admitted that there times that were very difficult, and she was so thankful for her roommates who supported her, but she never wanted to quit. “Giving up just makes it so much harder for the next person,” she said.