7th annual Rainbow Reception


With welcoming activities in full swing around campus, the GBPAC played host to the Rainbow Reception, the annual welcome back for the LGBT* community and their allies last Wednesday.

Allyson Rafanello, assistant dean of students, discussed the event’s purpose.

“It’s really intended to be a demonstration of our commitment to our students,” said Rafanello. “I’m happy to look around the room and see people talking to each other and meeting someone new, so that’s why we’re here.”

Students came to the event to see what the LGBT* community offers in connections and to recognize their resources. Cade Olmstead, freshman public administration major, attended the event to discover what the LGBT* community can offer him.

“As a bisexual man, I wanted to see what’s happening in the LGBT* community on campus and [a] time for me to be able to meet other people that were coming here, just to get to know who’s all involved in this support network,” said Olmstead. “[I also looked into] the organizations that are actively a part of this same sort of organization.”

This year was the seventh that the Rainbow Reception has been held, which has grown in attendees and participants since its first year. Some of the resources present were UNI Proud, sorority life, the Lutheran student center and student involvement.

Olmstead was seeking “an active presence and an active support” for the LGBT* community, and seemed to find it in the Rainbow Reception’s presentation.

“I think that [active presence and support] has been shown, especially with our speakers,” said Olmstead. “I really enjoyed what they had to say.”

Others, like Trevor Rayhons, a junior public relations and interactive digital studies major, desired further knowledge through the event.

“I would like to educate myself more about the community, even though I am already part of it,” said Rayhons. “I think it’s important even if you are an advocate, an ally or even a part of the community to still educate yourself and support those around us that are part of this community and let them know that they are welcome at UNI.”

He saw the event as a celebration of the community at UNI. Rayhons said, “I think [it] is a really amazing thing and I think that is hard to find, depending on what college campus you’re at,” said Rayhons.

Though the Rainbow Reception is held only once a year, there were lessons taken away that participants thought they can apply to daily life at UNI. Olmstead was greatly affected by speaker Interim President Jim Wohlpart’s notes on diversity.

“I would probably seek out as Dr. Wohlpart was saying, weaving diversity into the fabric of our campus,” said Olmstead. “I think it’s important not only that the administration is doing that, but that faculty and especially students are also active working towards this goal.”

He explained his desires to find opportunities that educate others about diversity, where there is a lack of diversity on campus, and make faculty or students aware.
Rayhons said he took away lessons in individuality, preference and assumptions.

“I think one thing you can really take away from this on a daily basis is being aware that every single person is individual and you know what they identify by in their sexuality, in their gender, and to not make assumptions,” said Rayhons. “Each and every single individual has a right to be themselves.”

With the event and community growing, Rafanello was excited for new additions to the staff as well.

“This is an exciting year for us. We’re in the process of hiring a full-time coordinator for the LGBT* center,” said Rafanello. “[I look] forward to what another person’s mind and creativity brings to a bigger and better event.”

As far as getting involved as a student, Rafanello had a few words of advice.

“Students can help by going through our Safe Zone Ally Training… [where] they can learn a little bit more about what it means to be a member of the LGBT community, how that might make a student’s experience a little bit different, how they can support another student probably in ways they didn’t know,” said Rafanello. Dates and details regarding the training will be released at a later date.