Viterbo Pride Club: A safe space for LGBTQ+ members

Sam Street, Freelance Writer

The Viterbo Pride Club is a newer club on campus, but it has done substantial work to provide a safe, supportive and inclusive college experience for Viterbo students. The club originally began as the Gay Straight Alliance back in 2011, but has come a long way and is now open to all, no matter what identity or orientation.  

The president of the club, Paige Buske, works closely with adviser Tyler Flockhart and the rest of the executive team: Meredith James, Savannah Frei and Mahlivanh Fleckenstein. Together, the team aims to bring justice and equity to all students, regardless of age, status, gender identity or sexual orientation. 

The mission of the Pride Club is to create a “welcoming, accepting, and safe place on Viterbo’s campus for people of all sexual orientations.” With this in mind, the club strives to create an environment on campus where students who identify with the LGBTQ+ community can feel seen, heard and understood. In order to do so, the club arranges many events, averaging about one per month. The events are places where students, staff and community members can gather to discuss concerns and celebrate victories for all. These events range from formal panels to casual coffee breaks.  

Students from Western Technical College and UW-La Crosse occasionally attend the events as well. As of February 2023, the club is planning a panel for students to attend, a collaboration with Viterbo’s new esports team, and arranging for students to see Gina Chavez perform at the Weber Center for Performing Arts in April. Chavez is a self-identified Catholic Lesbian and a 12-time Austin Music Award winner.  

In the past, the club has collaborated with UW-La Crosse and the City of La Crosse. Some collaborations included attending drag shows and city-wide events, like the La Crosse Pride in the Park. The club has also celebrated National Coming Out Day in October 2022 by arranging for a table outside of the Murphy Building to educate passersby of the celebration. In past semesters, they have also set up multiple areas around campus for students to stop and learn about different identities. An example was the table set up in the Student Union which offered information about the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Additionally, the club attended the Cultural Coffee Hour in collaboration with UW-La Crosse’s Global Connections Club. These events are just a few of the possible ways for students to feel secure in La Crosse. 

The next event that is in works is a panel where students can have an open discussion with staff who identify as LGBTQ+. This event will occur at 6 p.m. on March 6. The location of the event has not yet been determined, but all students are welcome to attend.  

If students wish to learn more about the club and receive updates on events, they can follow the Pride Club’s Instagram and Facebook accounts.