Third annual Alumni Pride Panel sets record attendance

By Alexandra White & Karisa Gaughan – Opinion Editor & Digital Sports Editor

Erica Desautels (‘09), Samantha Kowalski (G’16), and Dylan Alves (‘21) prepare for the Alumni Pride Panel in Arnow. Photo Courtesy of Juliana DeMuro

The Alumni Pride Panel on April 13 featured LGBTQ alumni Ashlyn Eaton (‘19), Erica Desautels (‘09), Samantha Kowalski (G ‘16), and Dylan Alves (‘21). The panel, hosted by the Student Alumni Association (SAA), and Lasell’s PRIDE club allowed alumni to share their experiences as a member of the LGBTQ community in college and workforce.

Junior marketing major and SAA President Spencer Fulone says the Alumni Pride Panel is different from others the club has organized before.

“I think this panel is more geared towards people’s stories rather than career readiness… the alumni that came back spoke about their past experiences, and how Lasell affected them,” Fulone said.

Alves, who started the on-campus drag shows, spoke on how he came to campus and found inclusion in PRIDE after transferring from Mount Ida College following its closure in 2018. 

Alumni also spoke about how their college experience shaped them, and improvements they would like Lasell to make in the future. “I think anyone in attendance really got a lot out of that as well just to see how much our campus has evolved, but also to recognize how far campus still has to come. There are changes that can be made for the future as well just to cater to that community and make it the best place possible for everyone,” said Fulone.

Alanis Perez-Rivera (‘21) is the Coordinator of Intercultural Engagement & Commuter Life, as well as the advisor of PRIDE who helped organize the Alumni Pride Panel for two years as a student. She continued her work on the event this year, helping organize and moderating the panel.  

Perez-Rivera says the Pride Panel can bring hope to students struggling to find their place at Lasell. “It’s so important to see someone…who looks like you. They can say ‘I graduated college, you know what, college wasn’t great for me because XYZ… but it got better.’ It helps students know that there is hope.”

Becca Van Spall-Hood (‘19), attended the event and kicked off the conversation portion. “It’s important to have alumni representation because it shows current queer folks that the university has a long-standing history of trying to make their environment more inclusive,” Van Spall-Hood said. 

As a recent queer alum, Van Spall-Hood says they are always looking for more open conversation in spaces, especially at Lasell.

“I love my college, as a queer alumni, just knowing there was a pride club on campus definitely added to my feeling of community,” Van Spall-Hood said. “Also, I really liked when professors, staff, and faculty attempted to use more diverse and inclusive language. Like acknowledging pronouns or being comfortable around obviously queer couples.”

Perez-Rivera said that while the event had great attendance, that is not the case for other LGBTQ events on-campus. “Sometimes those conversations get put on the back burner,” Perez-Rivera said. “If you’re an ally especially, come out and learn because…sometimes you see that LGBTQ-related events are heavily attended by LGBTQ folk, which is great, but like, wow, this would be great information for allies to have too.”

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