State Press Play: Downtown disconnect

Reviving a safe space for LGBT+ students on the Downtown Phoenix campus

Being a resident away from the main campus can leave students feeling disconnected from the larger ASU community, especially for LGBT+ students. Podcaster Kate Ourada speaks to the president of Confetti, Zee Fishkind, and member Genesis Sandoval on their experiences as pan-campus and queer students. 


 Kate Ourada: Everything happens in Tempe. Football games, theater performances, Greek life, all of it is centered around that campus. Of ASU's hundreds of clubs, the majority of them are also located in Tempe. For those of us on other campuses, it is easy to feel disconnected from the greater ASU community. When you're also part of a minority group, feeling like you lack a community can hit even harder. For LGBTQIA students who don't have an opportunity to frequent the variety of queer clubs the main campus has to offer, there are very few options at home on ASU's other campuses. However, one Downtown Phoenix campus club is trying to change that. 

Zee Fishkind: Hi, my name is Zee and I'm currently president of Confetti

Kate Ourada: So what is Confetti?

Zee Fishkind: Confetti is the LGBT+ organization specifically for ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus. We're part of a larger Rainbow Coalition that spans across all of ASU's campuses. 

Kate Ourada: How long has Confetti been around?

Zee Fishkind: I joined after it was made. At the earliest, it was made in fall of 2016, spring of 2017 around. 

Kate Ourada: And being on the Downtown Phoenix campus, what is your guys' goal?

Zee Fishkind: Our goal is primarily to normalize the LGBT community on this campus, and provide a comfortable space where people who are either in the community, questioning or just want to be allies, a space where they can hang out, express themselves however they want to and do some community engagement. 

Kate Ourada: Why is it important to have a club down here for downtown students?

Zee Fishkind: It's important to have a club on every campus, I feel like. Because, especially for freshmen students, there's not a whole lot of willingness to travel to other campuses without there really being a need to. 

Sometimes they will do it for a class, but if it's for an extracurricular, they're not as likely to go to another campus for resources. Being a pan-campus student — West, Downtown, Polytechnic —  we don't have a lot immediate access to some of the larger resources that Tempe has because it's the biggest campus. All the resources seem to be pretty centralized down there. 

Kate Ourada: Do you ever have students coming into Confetti who are feeling a little bit like they haven't really found their community here?

Zee Fishkind: Definitely. Especially right now. It's the beginning of the year, we've only had really one full week of classes, so people are still trying to find people that they can make connections, with make friends with. So we definitely get a lot of people in and out throughout the year and throughout the semester just wanting to find more friends or community members. 

Kate Ourada: Why do you think building that community is important? 

Zee Fishkind: It's especially important if you don't have a good support system at home and that could be either you have parents or guardians who don't exactly approve of them coming out. Maybe they don't feel safe coming out to their immediate family. It could also be we have a lot of students who are from different states. We even have international students here.

I work in the Student Success Center and we have data saying that the more likely it is that students find their community and find people that they can make connections with and really feel that they are important to, the more likely they are to succeed not just academically but in their own personal lives. 

Kate Ourada: Being in a metropolitan area like the Downtown Phoenix campus, do you feel that it's important to reflect that greater amount of types of people that we might see on ASU?

Zee Fishkind: Definitely. The Downtown Phoenix campus is really special in that we are still integrated within the city. Tempe just about seems like a square mile of just a school campus. Here in downtown, you can walk to class and pass murals on the street, you walk to class and say hello to the local homeless person. It's just a sense where we really, really want to engage with the community because we are still very much so a part of it and Downtown Phoenix has a very rich history within the LGBT community. We have places where we know for a fact that drag queens used to perform in secret. We have places where we can say like hey this is where the trans flag was first flown. 

Kate Ourada: There are so many specifically LGBT+ clubs on Tempe and Confetti is really the only one that we have down here. 

Zee Fishkind: To my knowledge we are the only up and running one. The only one that I know for a fact is the one specific to the law school called OUTLaw but I want to say they are only about a semester old, maybe a year old at the oldest, so they haven't done as much community engagement stuff as we have. 

Kate Ourada: So a lot of these clubs are, they're new. We're trying to build some community down here. 

Zee Fishkind: Yeah, at least on this campus. The ones in Tempe obviously are a lot more grounded. They've had more time to build up their own resources, build up their community partnership connections, that sort of thing. So we're building the plane while we're flying it down here. 

Kate Ourada: But even with clubs like Confetti trying to connect people off main campus, it is still easy to feel disconnected from your community. 

Genesis Sandoval : My name is Genesis Sandoval. I'm a freshman at ASU at the Downtown Phoenix campus and I'm a member of Confetti. 

Kate Ourada: What were your expectations for LGBT+ resources and community on ASU's Downtown campus?

Genesis Sandoval: I was expecting a lot compared to things in high school, because in high school there wasn't really a lot especially where I lived, since I lived in such a small town. I didn't know anybody who went to ASU but people say college in general has a lot more, especially for queer people and minority groups. 

Kate Ourada: Knowing what you know about having joined Confetti, how do you think that that reflects your expectations?

Genesis Sandoval: I don't want to say I'm underwhelmed, but I am a bit underwhelmed. It's great that there's something, especially since I'm used to nothing, but I'm looking forward to see what could come of Confetti and I'm just looking forward to getting to experience something, even if it's not as much as I was expecting. 

Kate Ourada: Have you heard of any other clubs besides Confetti that are centered around LGBT students?

Genesis Sandoval: Not on Downtown campus. I've heard vaguely of ones on other campuses, I can't name them off the top of my head, but I've heard about ones on other campuses. 

Kate Ourada: What drew you to join Confetti? 

Genesis Sandoval: There was nothing really for me before, and I wasn't out before, so I just really wanted a place where I could be out and just be around people who kind of understand that, both like the struggles and like the positive experiences that come with being a queer person. 

Kate Ourada: Having that community is something that I feel like a lot of LGBT groups, you know, are trying to accomplish. Do you think it's important that we have a Downtown Phoenix club like that specifically?

Genesis Sandoval: Definitely. I think really, it's really easy to feel like you're alone, especially in a group like being LGBTQ+ and that could put you down a dark path. And it's important not to feel like you're alone in your struggles or just alone in this experience. So I think it's definitely great that they have something here, it's better than nothing. 

Kate Ourada: For the State Press, I'm Kate Ourada. 


Reach the reporter at kourada@asu.edu  and follow @KateOurada  on Twitter. 

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