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For Dr. William Sweigart,

moving to IU Southeast in

1990 from San Francisco, where

he lived for almost 20 years as

a gay activist, meant adjusting to

a new environment. Sweigart’s

transition to the conservative climate

of the south was, for the most part,

a smooth one. “Everyone I worked

with knew I was gay from the

minute I walked through the door.”

However, tragedy struck during

his first semester teaching at

IU Southeast when a student in

LGBTQIAA

Faculty and

Staff:

AReflection

on Campus

Progress

his freshman composition class

committed suicide. Having thought

that sexuality may have been an

element in the student’s death,

Sweigart decided to take on the

responsibility of mentoring by

serving as the faculty advisor for the

Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). Upon

retiring, he had held the role for over

20 years.

After Sweigart’s retirement, Michael

Abernethy, senior lecturer in

Communication Studies, assumed

the role of faculty advisor for the

GSA. As a teacher, the biggest

university community change he’s

seen has been with his students —

how much more open and accepting

they are of him. He recalls an

instance several years ago when a

former student of his asked another

17

LGBTQIAA FACULTY AND STAFF: A REFLECTION ON CAMPUS PROGRESS

By Ashley Hoff ENG-W364 and W395

and Claire Gapsis ENG-W395