By Sara Holwerda
ANN ARBOR – Labor Day meant Gayz Craze for the LGBTA Commission at the University of Michigan. This annual event was held on the northern end of Palmer field under sprawling maize and blue tents punctuated with rainbow bouquets of balloons.
Jen Hsu and Danielle Williams, co-chairs of the commission, were busy setting up and making introductions as students arrived. The focus of the event was to welcome students to campus, and let incoming freshman in the community know “what groups are available to them here,” explained Williams.
The vibe of the Craze was laid back. There were opportunities for volleyball, soccer, flag football, tie dying and face painting. The refreshments were ample (including freshly made cotton candy).
Students could also peruse other LGBT-friendly student groups and organizations on campus. Group representatives were at information tables complete with requisite freebies like pamphlets, candy, lube and condoms. These included Dance Marathon, Circle K, Stonewall Democrats, Ahava, and the LGBTA Commission itself.
At the LGBTA Commission table sat Jenn Almquist, the assistant director of programing for the commission. Almquist has been making appearances at a number of LGBT events this weekend, and was in attendance for Maura Cullen, a keynote speaker for CHANGE.
Cullen’s presentation, entitled, “In the spirit of CHANGE: Toto We’re Not In Kansas Anymore,” began with a math exercise. Everyone in attendance had to, as a group, solve an addition problem which yielded an incorrect solution. Cullen’s point was that going with the group doesn’t necessarily yield correct solutions.
Cullen also spoke about individuals in communities and the strength of communities that honor diversity and the human spirit. “I was really appreciative of [Cullen’s] inclusiveness of diversity in body size and type, as well as gender and sexual orientation,” said Almquist.
Cullen’s presentation kicked off A Day of CHANGE – Creating a Healthy and New Generation of Equality – which hosted a series of events on Labor Day to celebrate diversity on campus. Her presentation was given twice on Sept. 4 and once Labor Day morning at the Pendleton Room of the Michigan Union.
The LGBTA Commission meets every Thursday during the school year at 6:30 on the third floor of the Michigan Union and puts on five to six events like Gayz Craze every year.