Rachel Newlin traveled with members of Common Ground to the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference in Kansas City.
As a member of the Dominican University community, one usually takes the motto of Caritas et Veritas, meaning love and truth, to heart and establishes a place for it in their everyday life.
While perhaps, as a student, one did not choose this as a motto, I would argue that establishing a place for bring love and truth into your life and the ones around you is always something a well-rounded person would want. One way I did this recently was on a trip to Kansas City, Missouri with my fellow Common Ground (DU’s Gay-Straight Alliance) members.
We made the 8-hour journey together for MBLGTACC (Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference) 2014, where Midwestern Gay-Straight and Pride college organizations all come together to share ideas and learn new ways to explore social justice and diversity on their own campus. This is especially important to Common Ground members in the way that the mission of Dominican University urges students and faculty alike to seek justice, diversity and social change in their everyday personal and professional lives.
Throughout the weekend at MBLGTACC, the words Caritas et Veritas and the message of social justice were explored in both very small and very large ways, both equally important.
At the outset of the trip, my fellow Common Grounders and I all packed into a 15-person van for the long journey that I can say honestly taught me more about love and truth interpersonally than I could have ever hoped for out of any 8-hour increment.
Perhaps you can think back to a long workday or a time in which you were stuck with a group of people for a long amount of time—it is not easy. People begin to irritate you and you hope for isolation, no matter how close you might be with the people around you.
Through arguments over the radio music, personal space, and seating arrangements one could get a little irked—and that is when the love and truth truly showed itself. Instead of lashing out at one another on the ride there and back, we continued to compromise on music choices (which ended up in a very nostalgic playlist of 90’s music; everyone can agree on a trip down memory lane via Britney Spears and Green Day, apparently), waste notebook paper on ridiculous games of Hangman and Tick-Tack-Toe (you never really outgrow it, even in college), and truthful conversations about our life goals, personal identities, and favorite Disney movies.
Overall, the interpersonal love and truth was very concentrated in that 15-passenger van. I’ve never felt more supported by the people around me.
Aside from the bonding that occurred among our own small and intimate group, we made our way to conference with the intention of making friends with other Midwestern Gay-Straight alliances, hoping to explore the ways in which we can work together to create social justice here in the middle of the country, where it is not always so easy.
We were inspired by the keynote speakers, among them that of Chely Wright, a country singer and LGBTQIA activist, and Rob Smith, an openly gay Iraq war veteran that chained himself to the White House gates in protest of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law. These are just two of the impressive people that presented to us their own accomplishments and urged us to be the change we wish to see, to be loud and active as a generation of justice and social change.
Aside from keynote speakers, the sessions themselves that explored ideas of diversity, acceptance, fighting injustice, both on a large-scale national way, and on a small-scale college campus kind of way.
Common Grounders attended sessions on gender binary, feminism, and LGBTQIA visibility and perception in different communities. We got to share ideas with other Midwest college students through forums and interactive sessions, where we bounced ideas for change off one another and found acceptance among our different identified groups.
All-in-all, the MBLGTACC experience was not only an eye-opening experience as a believer of Dominican’s Caritas et Veritas motto, but also an experience that I think truly illuminated the ways in which one can bring love and truth to your friends, neighbors, state, nation, and even the world as a whole.
While it was an uplifting experience of positive change and motivation, it also highlighted how far the world has to come in fighting injustice and intolerance. Both as vice president of Common Ground and as a student of Dominican University, I take this reminder of all our generation has to do to heart, as I know my fellow Common Ground members do too. The ways in which we can spread Dominican’s mission of social justice to the people and places around us are limitless, and we should never let that slip our minds as young agents of change.