The Phillipian: In your opinion, is the current campus environment conducive to open discussion among members of the gay and straight communities on campus? Mr. Tipton: One of GSA’s core objectives is to raise awareness of gay, lesbian, and bisexual issues, and a large number of students have been attending GSA meetings so far this fall, so I know these discussions are happening. Obviously, many conversations take place outside GSA as well; I personally have had some very constructive talks with students and faculty over the past week. I hope that we as a community continue to foster a climate of openness and trust for all students and faculty who want to express themselves on these issues. P: How could Andover improve the climate on campus even further? Are there issues that you think need to be addressed? T: Gay, lesbian, and bisexual issues are multifaceted, and there is always a need for education and support. For example, having a friend come out is a much different experience than simply talking about gay issues. Our P.A. community is evolving as well. For instance, we have a growing number of students on the campus with gay parents. More generally, as our cultural diversity grows on campus, so does the opportunity for intercultural dialogue and community growth on gay and lesbian issues. P: Some may consider the drag dance on GSA weekend gratuitous. How would you respond to that? T: The idea behind the cross-dressing theme is to challenge stereotypes of masculinity and feminity in an entertaining, light-hearted way. This year, as always, some students chose to engage with the theme while others did not, but everyone seemed to have a good time. The near-capacity crowd at Ryley represented a wide spectrum of the student community, but obviously not everyone. If some in our community stayed away out of discomfort with the theme or due to some other disagreement with the GSA, I personally hope that they will share their opinions with me and/or the GSA in a spirit of trust and dialogue.
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