Friday, December 19, 2014

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Fordham Hosts ‘Queer Prom,’ Approves ‘Queer’ Label

Fordham University has approved the word “queer” for use in University-sanctioned events such as the “Queer Prom” which took place last month, according to Fordham’s student newspaper.

The push for the acceptance of the term “queer” on the Jesuit campus started in 2011 when students in the Rainbow Alliance lobbied to use the term for their “prom.” The officially recognized group wanted to change the name of the “LGBT Prom” to “Queer Prom.” In order to convince the administration to allow this change, they began hosting performances held by LGBTQ students, created a task force, put up posters, and hosted academic panel discussions featuring Fordham professors discussing “queer theory.” In September, a forum called “Queer Theory and Ignatian Values” was held with theology professor Dr. Maureen O’Connell and Fr. Vin DeCola, S.J., advertised as speakers. The Facebook page for the event also acknowledged “support from Campus Ministry and Women’s Studies Dept.”

Their efforts paid off when Dean of Students for Lincoln Center Keith Eldredge and Dean of Students for Rose Hill Chris Rodgers approved use of the word “queer” for campus events and on Dec. 4, the Rainbow Alliance hosted the first “Queer Prom.”

“[S]tudents have taken this really impressive leadership role in this issue,” Anne Hoffman, associate chair of the English department and advisor to the queer task force, said in the student newspaper. “The university is a place of inquiry and freedom to explore and that [sic] the students have really shown us the way.”

“I think that the term ‘queer’ always evoked that rebellious edge, that constant questioning,” Arnaldo Cruz-Malavé, a Latino studies professor and an advisor to the queer task force, reportedly said. “The students themselves that affirming their identity, they are affirming the fact that they are not only for justice, but that they are always questioning social terms and social givens.”

The word “queer” can now be used in the titles of social events at Fordham but not yet in club names, something some students want changed in the future.

One student quoted in the student newspaper reportedly said, “Prior to coming to Fordham, I wasn’t really familiar with the word ‘queer’ and its significance within the LGBTQ community.”

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