‘I want students to feel safe here’


Nichole Learman stares at the Street Scenes by artist Ryan Tucker in the University Center on Campus – Kylie McCombe Oct. 11, 2022

Sarah Smith, Journalist

A new exhibit that values the safety of LGBTQ+ students displays dozens of pieces of artwork provided or created by members of the LGBTQ+ community, now on display in Roberta’s Art Gallery. “We Keep Us Safe” is working to share the importance of safe spaces on campus, show the variety of locations and things that comfort students, and display the personal safe spaces by those on campus who are included in this community.

Graduate Assistant Salmai Valadez has helped to organize and put together this exhibit at the gallery.

“This exhibit is going to be focused on the LGBTQ students and we have images that are from students telling their story or events or photos that explain them feeling safe,” Valadez said. “I want students to feel safe here in the community, not be afraid of speaking their mind. I know at the UC they have an area where they can hang out also, not necessarily saying that that’s just for them, they can feel welcome and be able to feel engaged, that they can relate to other people and that everyone is happy to include them, listen to what they’re going through, their college experiences.”

The artwork at this exhibit shows places on campus ranging from the library to the Pride Center where students feel the most safe, comfortable and accepted for who they are. Some of the artwork even displays objects that they find safety in, such as pastries and flowers. The range of things that bring comfort to students on campus shows the diversity among students in such a simple, yet impactful way.

“It seems like a lot of stories are on the personal side, so just being able to see certain places on campus where students feel more safe and comfortable, their point of view of how their college experience is what this event means to me,” Valadez said. “Just in general, seeing other students, how their college experience is and the diversity and how even though we all have different things that make us feel safe. For many people that can not always be their family or friends: it could be places, it could be items. It’s not always people that make others feel safe but also locations and certain items.”

Roberta’s Art Gallery will host a reception Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 1:30 p.m. where light refreshments will be provided for those attending. There is also an LGBTQ+ event held on the second floor of the UC prior to the reception. Head over to the UC to learn more about this community.