Evans Hall is mostly glass. Passersby can see right through the building. It is, in a word, transparent. Architecturally, it’s an excellent and aspirational metaphor for business. The building symbolizes what we hope to see in the world of profit and non-profit management. To me, though, it also symbolizes the open, transparent social culture we have at SOM.
On February 12, Out Of Office, SOM’s LGBTQ student group, hosted one of its major annual events, the Community Dinner. Designed as an evening of reflection and celebration, the dinner is an opportunity for members of the LGBTQ and Ally community to talk about what their identity means to them. Over 60 first and second year MBA students, MAM students, and staff attended. Looking out across the faces in the room I saw close friends and campus leaders, classmates and supporters. All were there because they recognized the importance of sustaining the warm, open environment we have for LGBTQ students at SOM.
Over the course of the evening, students one by one shared experiences. We heard coming out stories, reflections on identity, and stories about what it means to be a strong ally. A recurring theme for many was gratitude for the community that we have here. Each of us comes to SOM from a different place, physically and emotionally. SOM, and Yale more broadly, is a place that encourages individuals to be themselves. The school and its people are open and supportive – because helping people be open helps them to be better. Living in the shadows is taxing in a way that cannot be fully calculated. SOM recognizes that and has created a place where people do not have to live in the shadows.
Instead, SOM is a place where students can stand in front of dozens of their peers and tell some of their most intimate, searing, happy, and frightening stories. It is a place where we can be vulnerable to each other, and be met with support.