Project Respect hosted a training program Tuesday, Sept. 18 which aims to create a safe environment for all members of the Wartburg community.
The idea of Project Respect has existed for many years as a national program called “Safe Zone.” These programs would act as identifiers to the public of where people could go to be a part of a “safe” environment.
Wartburg’s version of this program, called Project Respect, started in 2005 with a goal to create a safe zone for all members of the Wartburg community regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, ethnicity, gender orientation, age or ability.
“As we all know, Wartburg is a small campus. We love the relationships we are able to make with others and value the ‘homey feeling’ that campus has,” alumna Emily Timmermans said. “Although it’s easy for some people to make connections more quickly than others, everyone needs someone to talk to.”
Timmermans said Project Respect is important because it gives people a place to go and someone to talk to that they can trust.
At the Project Respect training session, students, faculty and staff participated in a certification process. At the end they received a sticker they can post as a signal that they are an ally for the program.
Cassie Hales, an adviser for Alliance, said she believes this program is important at Wartburg because it represents minorities on campus.
“We want the majority to be allies to minorities,” Hales said.
Hales said the training session described what Project Respect is and made people ready to become allies. The session came to a close when the members signed an agreement to have their names posted on the website, and received their stickers to be visible allies on campus.
“There is a great witness of students who were willing to stand up and lead, and have been good witnesses to fellow students,” Rev. Ramona Bouzard, Dean of Chapel said. “It’s always scary to put one’s self forth. It takes courage.”
Bouzard said participants come for a variety of reasons and she hopes to equip people to be supporters.
“Generally people come from personal experiences or they don’t like the way a community or someone talked about an individual, so they want to learn more about how to help,” Bouzard said.