Photo by Casey Gomez

On Saturday night, Scout Schultz, a member of our community and leader of the Pride Alliance on campus, was fatally shot after calling the police on themselves.

The news raged through mainstream media outlets, in the most sensational way one can imagine. Through inflammatory rhetoric, they effectively prompted conflict at a time when we needed to come together, pitting students against each other in the aftermath of tragedy. Since then, Tech has been on the defensive. Attacks on law enforcement have prompted students to fiercely defend them on social media and around campus. However, the rhetoric in the news and the outpouring of emotional support for law enforcement that followed shifts focus from the issue at hand: many at Tech suffer from mental health issues, and members of the LGBTQIA community make up a disproportionately large percentage of them.

There is no denying that Schultz was dealing with mental heath issues. Schultz’s is a struggle faced by many at Tech, particularly those who are a part of the LGBTQIA community. Offering support for the officers of GTPD does not need to be the only priority. Those who need our support most are the students who are most deeply
affected.

To some extent, Tech understands this, sending a flurry of emails following the events to students who may need mental health resources to cope. The services provided are comparable to similar institutions in the United States, and yet they may be inadequate for those who are not in an immediate crisis or who may need a specialist, as is often the case in the LGBTQIA community. It is evident that the norm does not suffice, and we need to raise the bar on mental health resources at colleges all over.

Students, being at a time of transition in their lives, are vulnerable and require access to such resources and those who identify as trans or nonbinary are at a significantly higher risk for mental health issues and suicide. They may also lack the familial and financial support needed to seek counseling off-campus. Allocating more resources to counseling services and the LGBTQIA center could help reduce that stress.

For many nonbinary students, the most fundamental aspects of daily life, such as validation of one’s identity, may be a struggle. Offering access to gender-neutral bathrooms around the clock, and offering gender-neutral housing options to incoming freshman could be some first steps towards creating a more inclusive Tech community.

The lack of resources for members of the LGBTQIA community is, however, indicative of a more widespread cultural problem. A cultural shift within the microcosm of college may be possible if we realize that the Institute is not the sole driver of change. Go for Ally Training, use preferred pronouns, be mindful of one’s language and offer emotional support to those who need it.

Although there is much to be done to unify our campus in terms of institutional policies, part of the responsibility falls on us as a community if we are truly, as we claim, One
Georgia Tech.