Ally Week kicks off, receives criticisms

allyweekc Colby Patterson

Ally Week at the U began yesterday with a safe zone training held in the William Browning building.

The week is sponsored by the U’s LGBT Resource Center educate those unfamiliar with what an ally is.

“I kind of hesitate and don’t use that term in my life,” said McCall Izatt, an intern for the College of Social Work. “To me it’s just a friend … it’s someone who cares about me and getting to know me.”

Izatt said the term ally means something different for everyone, which makes it difficult to put a definition with the term. She said some people feel allies have stepped over the line recently.

“It can feel like an overstep,” Izatt said. “I can only speak for me, but I feel that those critiques are valid.”

Izatt said this can occur when allies do not spend time to get to know the person they are trying to be an ally for. She said the term ally might be too ambiguous and that some people might use it to raise their status rather than genuinely help.

She said not every ally is like this, but the trend has been increasing.

“You have to pick and choose your battles,” said Valerie Velarde, the safe zone coordinator at the training on Tuesday. “[Allies] are the support.”

Ally Week coincides with and will celebrate the national Day of Silence on Friday. The Day of Silence encourages those who have been bullied to speak out about their experiences.

“Breaking the silence, to me, is the most important part of our Ally Week because it allows for those voices to be heard and those stories to be heard,” Izatt said.

Verlarde said that the safe zone trainings are “uncomfortable” to some because participants have to share personal experiences with people they have never met. Verlarde said the privilege exercises make students realize they can be more privileged than other students.

“There’s a lot of guilt associated with privilege,” Izatt said. “It’s not something you chose necessarily, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have impact.”

Ally Week continues today in the Hinckley Institute of Politics with a panel on the critique of allyship.

Izatt said the forum has been nicknamed “I Love Gay People” because some individuals in the community justify saying something passive-aggressive about the LGBTQ community by following their statement with “but I love gay people.”

Verlarde said it is this type of behavior they are trying to eliminate, including the elimination of terms like homophobia by replacing them with heterosexism or monosexism.

Thursday’s Ally Week activity will be an ally social in the Union.

n.turner@chronicle.utah.edu