Group establishes Safe Zones
Effort provides opportunity to talk to someone
Harassment, bullying and name calling; many consider these petty crimes, but silent victims of such abuses are no longer condemned to suffer without the option of a helpful hand.
NIACC’s faulty and members of the student body have started a project called “Safe Zone,” where students who are harassed for reasons such as sexual orientation are now offered opportunities to talk to members of the faculty without judgment playing a role.
Jeff Platt, a NIACC psychology instructor, began Safe Zone at the beginning of the fall semester. Though the program is new, NIACC isn’t the first college to introduce an instructor/student alliance to end harassment and abusive nature due to sexual orientation.
“The first (Safe Zone) on record...occurred between ’92 and ’93,” Platt said, “Originally, the Safe in Safe Zone meant Staff, Administration and Faulty for Equality. After that, similar programs sprung up around the country.”
NIACC’s own Safe Zone began once Platt knew enough student support existed.
After Dr. Karen Pierson, NIACC vice president for Student Services, gave permission for the program, Platt offered his fellow faculty members the opportunity to be a Safe Zone member.
“We did one-on-one training with (faculty),” Platt said, “We gave them a manual with instructions and that told what Safe Zone is.”
Twenty-four members of staff volunteered to be a part of Safe Zone, and each received a Safe Zone sticker to display.
These clearly-seen stickers indicate the instructor/faculty member is a safe person for anyone with a difficult problem to talk to without risking judgment or harassment.
Safe Zone connects closely with NIACC’s gay/straight alliance group, RATEA (Raising Awareness Through Education Alliance).
Anyone may attend RATEA meetings, which are held Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. in the Activity Center. More information on both Safe Zone and RATEA may be found at RATEA’s Web site: http://www.staff.niacc.edu/ratea/
“Hopefully, 10 years from now Safe Zone won’t be needed,” Platt said.
Already, projects such as Safe Zone and other safety laws exist in the educational system at all levels. These programs display that colleges and universities show compassion towards all students by working to stop harassment and abuse towards individuals who choose a non-mainstream lifestyle.