PRIDE!Kent attendance low

Steve Bushong

Group’s president says number is normal for this time of year

Laura Hanna, junior English and history major, raises her hand while John Barham, senior applied conflict management major, listens to a question being read in the PRIDE! version of “Jeopardy!” SAM TWARK | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

Last night’s PRIDE!Kent meeting in the Student Center’s governance chambers pitted team Bisquick against team Fruitloop in an energized game of gay “Jeopardy!”

Famous homophobes for $1,000 asked, “Name one of Matthew Shepard’s killers.”

“Aaron McKinney,” came a quick answer.


Russell Henderson was the other killer.

The PRIDE!Kent crowd was loud, happy and involved. Not a trace was detected of an issue confronting PRIDE!Kent.

But according to students affiliated with the group, there has been a decline in participation.

Shawn Szymecki said he thinks attendance is low not only at PRIDE!Kent, but at residence hall programs, campus events and student organizations in general.

About 35 people attended last night’s PRIDE!Kent meeting, filling about a third of the Governance Chambers.

Amanda Boyd, president of PRIDE!Kent, said the attendance was comparable to last year at the same time, when she was programming chair.

Nevertheless, former PRIDE!Kent president Christopher Taylor said that although he doesn’t have exact numbers, he thinks there is a difference in PRIDE!Kent’s membership between now and last year.

Though Boyd said PRIDE!Kent has about the same number of members, she offered explanations for the low student turnout at organizations across campus:

“Maybe it’s work constraints, time constraints,” she said. “Or maybe it’s student apathy.”

She also said the cold could influence the turnout.

Referring to PRIDE!Kent in particular, Boyd said a drop in membership at this time of year is typical.

“It’s the same story every year,” she said, explaining that membership is large at the beginning of the fall semester, as new students seek out and connect with others, but then membership dwindles as fall transitions to spring.

Taylor had other explanations.

He said though the trend described by Boyd is normal, the group is currently suffering from an unusual deficit of members.

“(Membership) doesn’t need to dive as much as it has,” he said.

When Taylor was president, he said it had over 500 members. Then, the Governance Chambers was full of people.

“This year, I think the momentum has been a little bit lost,” Taylor said.

He said the blame lies with both the administration and PRIDE!Kent’s current board.

Both he and Szymecki said student programs are not receiving adequate funding from the administration.

At last night’s PRIDE!Kent board meeting, Syzmecki said events for PRIDE week – events that could bring people – were being discussed, but lack of money was a barrier to their realization.

As for the current PRIDE!Kent board, Taylor said, “I think Ms. Boyd and the other leaders of Pride . need to make stuff happen … It’s remembering the common cause and who you work for and how hard it was to get to this point.”

Boyd agrees that more people could attend PRIDE!Kent, but she’s “not going to pull them out of their beds.”

“The people who are here are about the community,” she said, adding that the group tries to stay in contact with those who can’t attend meetings via Facebook, MySpace and e-mail.

Contact minority affairs reporter Steve Bushong at [email protected].