Students, faculty and staff gathered to view the premiere of the Georgia Tech “It Gets Better” video last Monday evening, Oct. 10 to kick off Pride Week. Atlanta City Council Member and Tech alum Alex Wan introduced the screening, which was held in the Student Center Ballroom.
The video was produced by Professor Jesse Stommel of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts and a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Literature, Communication and Culture, and Julie Champion, a senior BME student and President of the Georgia Tech Pride Alliance. Music was produced by Matt Morris, a nationally-recognized musician and songwriter.
“For the past year, Pride Alliance and several other allies have been working to put on an event every semester to raise awareness and gauge interest of LGTBQ issues on Georgia Tech’s campus,” Champion said. “There was Tech United last fall, the Acceptance for All campaign last spring, and now the It Gets Better film this semester. This particular project is extremely important because it specifically identifies members of the Georgia Tech community that are supportive.”
The video featured many well-known Georgia Tech figures, including Vice President for Institute Diversity, Dr. Archie Ervin; Associate Dean of Students and Director of Diversity program, Stephanie Ray; Undergraduate Student Body President, Elle Creel; Director of the Counseling Center, Dr. Ruperto Perez; Chief of GT Police, Teresa Crocker; Senior Systems Engineer for the Office of Information Technology, John Douglass; Assistant Director of the President’s Scholarship Program, Billie Pendleton-Parker; Student Involvement Coordinator, Stephanie Knight; Director of Greek Affairs, Tanner Marcantel and many others.
Originally a campaign on YouTube to encourage teenagers that are feeling suicidal to continue to live and to seek help, the “It Gets Better” campaign has garnered an increasing amount of national and international attention.
The It Gets Better campaign, founded in 2010 by columnist and author Dan Savage, partners closely with The Trevor Project, a national resource and counseling center aimed at preventing suicide among LGBT teens. The project operates a 24/7 crisis intervention lifeline at 866-488-7386.
“It has evolved into a huge movement to which celebrities, prominent companies, and other universities have contributed,” Champion said.
Though individuals and many community organizations have created videos and uploaded them to the website. Tech has become one of the college leaders in creatinga campus video.
Tech joined the ranks of American colleges such as Princeton University, Stanford University, Cornell University, and nearby Emory University in producing its own version of the video.
“At the present, I think the purpose of an ‘It Gets Better’ video is to spark a discussion on exactly how to make it better,” Champion said.
A panel of featured students and administrators fielded questions after the viewing of the video.
They addressed specifically how to make LGBT life better on campus. Ray and several others enthusiastically called for the creation of a dedicated LGBT Office, a resource available at many universities the world over, but not currently present on Tech’s campus.
The panel also addressed ways in which students and faculty members can show their support as allies. Panel members specifically emphasized listening, being openly supportive, and creating an inclusive environment in the classroom and around campus.
The event was one of the kick-off events for the week long Coming Out Week, the mission of which was to build a campus climate where LGBTQ students, faculty, staff and their allies are not just tolerated but are accepted.