Monday, October 06, 2008

Flag raised for National Coming Out Week

By Courtney Westlake

In celebration of National Coming Out Week, a group of students, staff and faculty gathered in front of the Public Affairs Center to raise a rainbow-colored flag that will hang directly under the UIS flag for the entire week.

"Flags are critical symbols," said Jim Korte, assistant dean of students at UIS. "People fight and die over flags; people live for flags. We salute them, we put our hands over our hearts, and we respect what they symbolize. For those of us at the university, having it fly on the staff with our UIS flag is very important. It is a symbol of how far we have come institutionally and as a university in our acceptance, tolerance, respect and celebration of who we are as a community."

Universities are important communities, Korte said, UIS boasts a "great multitude" of diverse students.

"We've come a long way," he said. "We now have a Diversity Center existing on this campus that was barely a dream a year ago. We have a resource office that is in a very public area on our campus, and we have students stopping by on a daily basis."

Through celebrating diversity and respect of different races, sexual orientations, ethnicities and backgrounds, the university and community are beginning to "layer" their resources and ensure the services provided today will be available tomorrow, Korte said.

"We have come to the point of tolerance, the point of acceptance and the point of respect, and hopefully today it is the beginning of a celebration of our future," he said.

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