Delta's Prism Alliance is an inclusive organization of faculty and staff dedicated to affirming and providing support for a variety of identities and expressions of sex, sexuality and gender.
- To establish and maintain a safe and affirming environment at Delta College for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, and other (LGBT+) gender non-conforming students, staff, and faculty and their allies.
- To raise awareness of LGBT+ issues across campus through education and advocacy.
- To increase tolerance, promote inclusion, and model acceptance across all levels of the college.
- To advocate for LGBT+ faculty, staff, and students in an effort to end discrimination.
- To promote the health and well-being of LGBT+ persons in an adverse, but evolving, society.
- To act as a community liaison and welcome the participation and support of all who share in our mission.
- To support Unison, the Delta College student LGBT+ alliance (GSA), as appropriate and as needed.
Delta's Prism Alliance is a group of approximately 60 faculty and staff members working toward improving conditions for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual and other (LGBT+) gender non-conforming students and employees on campus. The group was formed in 2006 by Stuart Barbier. For many years prior to this, the embracing of diversity on campus didn’t seem to include diversity related to sexual orientation or gender identity. After meeting with the Human Relations Committee to discuss LGBT issues in March, 2006, Stuart met with Bill Ketchum of the Delta College Black Faculty and Staff Association and discussed that group’s mission, which he used as a model for the new group. He then contacted Charissa Urbano, who had worked a lot with diversity on Delta’s campus (including working with Dean Barbara Tedrow on the Reflective Leadership Seminar, 1994-1996, and co-chairing, with Linda Holoman, the President’s Diversity Task Force, 2007-2009), and they invited a small group of people to meet and finalize the group’s mission, after which membership was open to any Delta College faculty or staff member who believed in the mission. Stuart and Charissa co-chaired the group until Charissa's retirement in 2021, at which time Denise Hill became co-chair through April, 2022; Liz Ullrich is now the co-chair. In October 2022, Stuart stepped down as co-chair and was replaced by Donald Winter.
The Prism Alliance is an important part of Delta's diverse community, directly contributing to Delta College's Mission—“educating, enriching and empowering our diverse community of learners”—as well as promoting its values: “Delta College is a diverse learning-centered community based on integrity and respect” and “[w]e actively promote, advocate, respect and value differences. We foster a welcoming environment of openness and appreciation for all.” As with other groups on campus such as the Human Relations Committee and Multicultural Services, the Delta Prism Alliance’s mission is one way to actively promote, advocate, respect, and value differences. Where the Alliance differs, perhaps, is in their focus on helping to create a welcoming environment for a very specific group of individuals actively marginalized by some people in our society.
The establishment of this group was significant enough for Stuart Barbier to be awarded the 2008 Don Laughner Award for Creative Change and the League for Innovation’s Innovation of the Year Award, and in 2012, the Delta College Office of Student Diversity & Inclusion Programs presented him with the Employee Champion for Diversity Award, an award also presented to Charissa Urbano in 2013. In 2010, Charissa Urbano was recognized with the Perceptions Saginaw Valley Pride Award, in 2013 she earned the World View Award from the Global Awareness Program, and in 2014, she was awarded Delta College’s Spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. Award, while Stuart was given the American Association of University Professors Delta College Chapter’s 2013-2014 Recognition Award for Service (awarded to Charis in 2016) and the 2016-2017 Recognition Award for Governance. Charissa was the 2021 recipient of the Don Laughner Award for Creative Change and Innovation for her work in scientific digital pedagogy and diversity partnerships (on campus and in the community). Denise Hill was given this award in 2012 for her work establishing Safe Space. Significantly, the Prism Alliance was awarded the Delta College Executive Committee for Administrative/Professional Staff’s Outstanding Teamwork Award in 2016, the Alliance’s tenth anniversary year.
Significant accomplishments as a result of Alliance members’ teamwork include:
- Establishing Delta’s Safe Space program to directly benefit LGBTQ+ student success on campus (for this, Donna Giuliani, Denise Hill, and Elizabeth Ullrich were awarded the 2012 Don Laughner Award for Creative Change and the League for Innovation’s Innovation of the Year Award);
- Revitalizing Unison, the student LGBTQ+/allies association;
- Producing and updating Delta’s LGBTQ+ Resources web page, originally through Counseling/Advising and Career Services;
- Establishing the LGBTQ+ Resource Center on Delta’s campus;
- Creating the “Delta College Resources for LGBTQ+ Students & Allies” postcard with Student Services;
- Establishing the Standing Committee on LGBTQ+ Awareness Month through Diversity and Inclusion Programs, which develops LGBTQ+-related programming on campus, including the following:
- Displaying “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Awareness” banners on campus during April;
- Hosting a screening with following Q & A session of the film Hannah Free (4/10/12) with guest writer Claudia Allen;
- Guiding Unison’s sponsorship of the Family Diversity Projects’ photo exhibit “Love Makes a Family” (4/3 –4/14/12) and hosting a reception in Delta's Founders Hall on 4/5/12;
- Bringing Trust Theatre Ensemble’s production of The Bullycide Project to campus (10/16/12) in conjunction with the LGBTQ+ Awareness Month Committee, the Delta College Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion Programs, Unison, PFLAG Tri-Cities, SVSU, and Perceptions Michigan;
- Bringing Melissa Grey from the Michigan Project for Informed Public Policy to run a workshop titled, “LGBTQ…you might be an ally, too! Using social science research to reduce prejudice against LGBTQ people of color and advance inclusion and equality,” 4/17/13;
- Hosting a screening with following discussion of the film, A Fish Out of Water (4/18/13);
- Creating an LGBTQ+ Icons display and supplemental classroom materials beginning in April, 2014, consisting of 12 self-standing photo cut-outs of the icons, along with their biographies, in the hallways around campus (with funding from the Special Projects Committee; since then, these icons, now numbering in the twenties, have been used during LGBTQ+ History Month in October and/or LGBTQ+ Awareness Month in April, with additional icons added using funds from the Standing Committee);
- Guiding Unison’s hosting of a screening with following discussion of the film, A Fish Out of Water (4/10/14);
- Hosting a screening with following discussion of the film, The Celluloid Closet (4/23/14);
- Hosting the 2015 LGBTQ+ Film Festival on campus with screenings (followed by discussions) of Kinky Boots, Dear White People, Before Night Falls, Dallas Buyers Club, and The Kids are Alright;
- Hosting “Proud to Serve: LGBT Vets Photo Exhibit” in the Delta College Library during April, 2016, including an opening reception with guest speakers Bethany Alford, Veteran and Delta College Coordinator of Veteran Services and Charin Davenport, Veteran and Adjunct English Instructor at Delta College.
- Hosting the Family Diversity Projects’ photo exhibit “We Have Faith: LGBT Clergy, Allied Clergy, and People of Faith Speak Out” during April, 2017, including an opening reception and interfaith prayer led by Rev. Greg Coles of the Unity of Bay City Spiritual Center;
- Hosting the Family Diversity Projects’ photo exhibit “Pioneering Voices” during April, 2017, including an opening reception;
- Hosting the “Heroes of the LGBTQ Civil Rights Movement” display in April 2019, purchased from the ONE Archives Foundation;
- and Creating Poetry Posters to display on campus celebrating LGBT Awareness Month and National Poetry Month.
- Originating and maintaining an email list used since 9/20/06 to share and discuss timely information and articles related to Prism’s mission with Prism members;
- Creating and maintaining the Prism Alliance website, including restoring it twice when the college deleted it during the move to new platforms;
- Proposing the appointment of an administrative LGBTQ+ liaison, which was accomplished with the December, 2015 designation of the Dean of Students for this role, thereby institutionalizing Delta’s efforts toward creating a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff (and when the role disappeared with the resignation of one of the deans, we lead the effort to restore the role to the new dean, with the assurance that the role was written into the dean’s position for the future);
- Working with the librarians to produce a select LGBTQ bibliography of books/resources located at Delta College, as well as a list of Stonewall Book Award books within local libraries;
- Creating the Delta College Values Diversity posters (which can be found in classrooms) in conjunction with Delta’s Equity Office; the poster was also used in a presentation administrators Barry Baker and Margaret Mosqueda gave at the 2010 League for Innovation Conference;
- Leading the Delta Senate to add “gender identity” to the Equal Opportunity Statement in the Senate Handbook (2.005 );
- Leading the Delta Senate to update the Equal Opportunity Statement to better reflect practice (2.005 [Fall 2012 – Fall 2013]);
- Encouraging the Delta Fitness Center to redefine “family” in terms of membership options;
- Encouraging the removal of inappropriate signage related to private locker facilities (there were sign stands outside of the non-gendered/family bath/shower rooms in the fitness center locker rooms in 2009 that stated they were for use only by families or people with disabilities, which excluded LGBTQ+ people; the signs were removed) and later (2022) working with the administration to replace signage on single-use restrooms to indicate “all-gender”;
- Establishing free, confidential HIV testing on campus in collaboration with Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Center (beginning Fall 2012 and continuing for a number of years);
- Forming the World AIDS Day Committee, which: coordinated and co-hosted an informational table in the Delta hallways for National Coming Out Day (October 11) in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 (along with Unison and the community groups PFLAG and Perceptions); hosted a World Aids Day Event (2012) at which condoms and other safer sex information were distributed to students, faculty, and staff and funds were raised for the Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Center in order to help keep AIDS testing free at Delta (in collaboration with the Special Projects committee and the Global Awareness Program); and co-hosted a screening of the documentary Miss HIV with the support of the Global Awareness Program (12/2/13);
- Serving as guest speakers within the community (e.g., Perceptions meetings; Saginaw Country Chamber of Commerce Leadership Saginaw Class of 2011, 2012, and 2013; Perceptions Saginaw Valley LGBT Pride Awards Banquet Master of Ceremonies 2009 – 2013);
- Attending regional LGBTQ+-related events such as the Saginaw Valley LGBT Pride Awards Banquet, Equality Michigan Annual Dinner (where the Catalyst Awards are presented), and the Jim Toy Community Center’s Equality Cabaret;
- Working with the Sexual Orientation Gender Identity Youth Advocacy Council, a group of mental health practitioners, foster care services people, educators, and others; in conjunction with this work, Charis Urbano had developed several presentations/seminars such as “Transgender 101” (in its fifth year in 2019), “LGBTQ+ Youth Risk & Needs,” and “The Complexity of Gender and Sexuality in Schools: A Conversation with School Leaders” (first given 5/14/19);
- Sending representatives to national and regional conferences including the Creating Change Conference (sponsored by the National LGBTQ Task Force, Detroit, MI, 2009), “Mosaic: Putting the Pieces Together” (Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference, Lansing, MI, February 8-10, 2013), “Waves of Courage: Social Science Evidence to Strengthen Ally & LGBT Equality Efforts” (sponsored by the Michigan Project for Informed Public Policy, Ferndale, MI, May 4, 2013), “Daylong Institute of LGBTQ Student Services in Higher Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison” (sponsored by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals, Madison, WI, July 19, 2013), “Equality Leadership Colloquium: LGBT Issues in Higher Education” (sponsored by the Equality Research Center at Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI, May 16, 2014), and the Great Lakes Bay Region LGBT Workplace Summit (sponsored by The Dow Chemical Co., SVSU, Dow Corning Corp., The Associated Builders & Contractors, Bierlein Companies, Inc., Consumers Energy, Roth Cleaners, Inc., and Perceptions, Inc., University Center, MI, September 15, 2015);
- Consulting with other Michigan community colleges and universities (sharing with them our experiences establishing Prism, Safe Space, and/or Unison);
- Presenting “Collaborating to Improve Campus Conditions for LGBT Students, Faculty, & Staff” at the 2012 22nd Annual State of Michigan Equity Within the Classroom Conference at SVSU, March 19, 2012;
- Presenting “Celebrating Our Success in Improving Campus Conditions for LGBT Students, Faculty, & Staff" at the 2013 LAND conference in Bay City, MI, February 14, 2013;
- Making presentations to each area of the college to introduce Prism, Unison, and Safe Space (2008 – 2009);
- Presenting at the Delta College Board of Trustees Dinner Meeting, October 14, 2014;
- Presenting "Aristotle, Gender, and Hetero-normativity" to the Humanities Learning Center, March and April 2012;
- Planning and hosting the Harvey Milk Day of Action, May 22, 2010, with Glenn Madigan, a former Delta student, as an outreach activity for the Great Lakes Bay Region (highlighted in the President’s report to the Board of Trustees on 5/11/10);
- Leading a discussion on benefits equity (including getting the Board of Trustees to pass a resolution opposing Governor Snyder’s decision to sign anti-gay legislation in December, 2011; in December, 2014, the college’s administration proposed an “other qualified adult” benefits package and began the process for its approval, but because the Supreme Court of the United States took up Obergefell v. Hodges, the administration put the proposal on hold until the issue became moot on 6/26/15);
- Winning the 2007, 2008, and 2009 college trophies for AIDS-Walk fundraising to support the AIDS prevention and treatment efforts in our community; Delta continues to sponsor a walking team each year;
- Participating in the fall Student Success Fair and the winter Care Fair on campus each semester, as well as the 2014 Passport to Delta event (through Safe Space and Unison); in 2016, the Care Fair theme was “Straight for Equality,” and three information sessions were offered with the assistance of Prism and Unison members: “LGBTQ+ and Title IX,” “Sexual Diversity, an Open Discussion on the Spectrum of Human Sexuality,” and “How to Be an LGBTQ+ Ally”;
- Sponsoring “An Evening with Greg Louganis” with SVSU, Riverhaven Coordinating Agency, Saginaw County Health Department Treatment and Prevention Services, and the Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Center (September 2013);
- and Co-sponsoring with The Pride Center at SVSU the presentation, “Winning Equality Beyond Marriage,” by Steph White, the Executive Director for Equality Michigan and Equality Michigan Action Network (January 2016).
If you'd like the join us, or for more information about the Prism Alliance, please contact one of the co-chairs.
For questions related to LGBTQ+ advocacy on campus, please contact Delta’s administrative LGBTQ+ liaison and coordinator.