Written by Devon Mitchell
Fifteen student organizations competed in a clothing drive contest sponsored by the Student Government Association the weeks before fall break. Clothing was collected for the “Out of the Closet” community closet for transgender and gender non-conforming students at Roanoke College. “Out of the Closet” is an initiative started by the Religion and Philosophy Department.
SGA President Emily Norton first had the idea to have a competitive clothing drive after hearing from other members in her residential hall who wanted to make an impact on campus. Each participating organization paid a ten-dollar participation fee. Whichever organization collected the most clothing would be able to donate the money to a philanthropy of their choice.
Norton saw the impact of the drive far beyond SGA, stating, “We can always strive to be more inclusive at Roanoke and I appreciate that the effort is starting from campus ministry and the religion department as many LGBTQ people struggle with relationships to the church. For the same reason, I am glad that there was a push from other communities such as Greek life who have historically excluded LGBTQ members.”
SGA Treasurer and Religion and Philosophy Department Student Assistant Grace Robinson was elated to see how well the clothing drive went stating, “Seeing the whole campus community create this closet and participate in the clothing drive was absolutely amazing. It really goes to show what is at the heart of our Maroons.”
From all fifteen organizations, SGA was able to donate 1,216 items to the community closet. Chi Omega collected the most clothing with 341 items, followed by Alpha Sigma Alpha with 338 items, and Alpha Phi Omega with 107 items. The sorority will be donating $150 to Make a Wish, the philanthropy of their choice. Chi Omega stated, “The Pi Epsilon chapter of Chi Omega focuses specifically on volunteering and raising donations for the Make A Wish Greater Virginia. We are thankful for the opportunity to help our philanthropy, as well as contribute to the Out of the Closet Clothing Drive.”
As of October 13th, the community closet is open to students. Out of the Closet is in West 324, and all clothing is free. If you have any questions concerning the closet contact Dr. Berenson of the Religion and Philosophy Department.
Student Government is making strides to create a more inclusive space on campus and participating in Out of the Closet is one step towards that. Those sentiments are reiterated by Robinson stating, “We strive to create spaces for all students and make sure that they are supported in their identity and purpose.”