Section: Features

New affinity group provides space for ace and aro students

Ace Space and Aro Place (ASAP) is the newest LGBTQIA+ organization on campus. According to Associate Director of Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Timothy Bussey, who serves as the group’s co-advisor, ASAP aims to create a safe place for students who identify as aromantic (aro) or asexual (ace), as well as provide educational outreach to allosexual and alloromantic individuals — those who do not identify as asexual or aromantic. 

ASAP co-president Nyandeng Juag ’22 said the group was founded after the spring 2019 Kenyon Queer and Trans Studies Conference. According to Juag, ASAP is a fairly non-committal organization, and students are welcome to come to as many or as few meetings as they wish. Juag hopes to raise awareness about different asexual and aromantic experiences and provide a place for other students to learn more about the community. 

As part of their community-building efforts, ASAP hosts and partakes in programming. During Ace Awareness Week, which will take place between Oct. 25 and Oct. 31 this year, ASAP plans to host a student-led panel. According to Bussey, the event will “help allosexual folks with better understanding how they can be more inclusive to the ace community.” In addition, Juag hopes that it will help the rest of the campus realize that there is a space for people who fall under the aro and ace spectrum and advocates within the community. 

Bussey also noted that ASAP has tabled in Peirce Dining Hall to distribute resources aimed at helping students better understand aro- and ace-specific vocabulary. Juag also plans for the group to host events in February during Aromantic Awareness Week. 

Juag believes that aro- and ace-identifying students have generally been welcomed and included in LGBTQIA+ spaces on campus. “Kenyon is good about including us in general programming,” Juag noted. She is especially grateful for Bussey’s tremendous support, citing their training of faculty and staff about aro- and ace-specific terminologies. 

When the group first formed, Juag was apprehensive about student interest, but more members showed up than she had anticipated. The group attracted students who fall on the aro and ace spectrums as well as allies who are invested in LGBTQIA+ issues, she said. 

Ultimately, Juag is happy about where the organization is heading and excited that asexual and aromantic identities are becoming better understood. Juag hopes to continue providing a space for first-year students in the aro and ace community as well as students who are just beginning to question their identities.

 

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