The lists of allies and advocates are all across campus—anyone who's used a bathroom at Bowdoin has seen an OutPeer, OutAlly or SafeSpace "bathroom list."
The OutPeer program, which trains LGBTIQ students to help fellow students cope with questions of sexuality, has been running for four years. The names of its members are listed on posters to provide a resource for students who might need support.
The OutAlly program, now in its third year, is a similar resource with the same purpose. OutAllies are straight students who complete training to provide support for the LGBTIQ community at Bowdoin.
The SafeSpace bathroom lists resemble the OutAlly lists; students who complete 30 hours of training—many more than the three hours required for OutAllies—become "advocates" for survivors of sexual assault. Their contact information is compiled into lists and taped to walls across campus, most visibly in bathrooms.
All three programs are growing.
"We'll have 40 OutPeers this year," said Kate Stern, director of the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity. "We just trained another 40 OutAllies and there are 60 or so waiting to be trained."
The OutAlly list is expected to include the names of 200 students this semester, the largest amount to date.
"Our numbers have been growing steadily in the past few years," Frongillo wrote in an email to the Orient. "There has also been an increase in the number of men involved—there was only one other guy in the group when I came in as a first year, and now there are 10 guys on the bathroom list and a number of others in training."
A lack of male participants is apparent in both groups. Though more men are joining SafeSpace, there has been a consistently low number of male participants in OutAllies.
"I [trained] 40 students last week and maybe there were 8 guys in the room, maybe 10, which is typical," said Stern.
A diverse group of students appear on the SafeSpace and OutAlly lists, something that leaders of both groups say is important to their goals.
"To see somebody on your team who's on the OutAlly list matters, students tell me; to see somebody on your floor on the OutAlly list matters," said Stern."It changes the level of fear."
The same sentiment was voiced by members of SafeSpace.
"The more people we have in different groups of friends, and the more people we have involved in different activities, [having advocates of] different genders—that's really important to make sure everyone on this campus has someone they could potentially talk to on SafeSpace," said Matt Frongillo '13, who leads SafeSpace with Katie Mathews '12.
The number of times that students have used the lists to contact SafeSpace advocates and OutAllies is impossible to document because both programs emphasize confidentiality as key to their success. Neither group has a mechanism to track how often the programs are actually used.
"We don't talk about those numbers," said Frongillo. "But yes, it is a utilized resource on campus. I can definitely speak to the fact that SafeSpace [members do] serve as advocates for the campus."
The necessity of total confidentiality is a feature that both programs' participants understand.
When asked whether he has reported his experiences as an OutAlly and SafeSpace advocate to the leaders of those organizations, Jordan Francke '13, said, "because this is a confidential issue, I don't think you can really say that much [to anyone] about it."
Said Stern of Out Allies: "I don't encourage them to share, I think people only connect back with me when they're looking for some support in supporting somebody else, or if they have a really fantastic, positive experience to share."
For OutAllies and OutPeers, it is understood that the lists serve partially as a list of contacts, but also, and perhaps primarily, as a visual and moral support system.
SafeSpace predates many of the other sexual assault prevention groups on campus, including Bowdoin Men Against Sexual Violence and VSPACE, as well as the OutPeer and OutAlly programs, which were developed with SafeSpace as a model.
Many students who participate in SafeSpace also participate in OutPeer and OutAlly.
"One of the things I think is wonderful is that our lists connect through people who do both," said Stern.
SafeSpace advocates, OutAllies, and their leaders emphasize the importance of simply offering support for students who feel marginalized on campus.
"A big common theme [of these programs] is listening to your peers and connecting to them, and giving them a platform where they can tell their story," said Francke. "But you don't need to go through a training to be able to do that."