Q&A with Evelyn Roehn


Crystal Clausen, Online Editor

Meet Evelyn Roehn, a third year student at CWU double majoring in political science and law and justice. She is also completing an Arts and Science certificate in the William O. Douglas Honors College. Evelyn is a part of the LGBTQ community, Equality through Queers and Allies (EquAl) and with June being Pride month, we wanted to highlight a community member’s experience.

Q: What is important for people to know about EQuAl?

A: Oftentimes when students, faculty and staff ask me about EQuAl I try to ensure that they understand how EQuAl is not just an organization for students in the LGBTQ community. Without the support of allies, the queer community would not be what it is today. Unfortunately, several members of the LGBTQ community often feel alone or fail to be supported by those they love the most. Having members in EQuAl that are allies and supporting others allows for us to build bonds within the community of Ellensburg and on campus. EQuAl is and has always been a safe, loving and supportive group that is here to assist you and help you grow as an individual and as a member of various communities.

Q: What does pride mean to you?

A: Pride to me has always been a celebration of diversity and a time to give thanks/cherish the brutal work that so many queer trailblazers had to endure. Throughout history, pride has grown from the representation of LGBTQ individuals to many groups and communities from all different backgrounds. The beauty of pride is that it is a time to celebrate what makes us unique and to show the world why inclusion and acceptance are paramount in legislation. Pride is visibility during a time when individuals want to silence their voices. This year we saw the implementation of “Don’t Say Gay Bills” that act as barriers determined to keep young persons in the closet and afraid of self-expression. If history has taught us anything, it is that you cannot and will not stop individuals from being themselves and that love, acceptance, equality and determination can conquer all.

Q: How does the LGBTQ community have an impact on your life?
A: Coming from a very small town in Washington, I was fearful to explore what being different meant. After having to spend hours online looking at articles, T.V. shows and YouTube videos, I concluded that I am a lesbian. Unfortunately, back home, I did not have a support group other than my family to talk about what being queer meant and what impact that would have on my life. Since my community failed to provide support, I decided that since I was the only person in my high school that was “out of the closet”, I was going to create a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at my school for students to feel heard and safe. If it was not for those brave, kind and supportive souls that attended those GSA meetings, I would have been lost and uneducated in my identity. The LGBTQ community has provided guidance in times when I feel unworthy of success or scared of change. They are the shoulder to cry on and the leaders of tomorrow that are etermined to educate and advocate for others.

Q: How do you feel CWU is supporting the LGBTQ community?

A: When I was a senior in high school, I knew I was going to go to CWU. After touring Central and seeing the diversity and representation of LGBTQ individuals, I knew I could feel safe here and continue to explore my identity. I believe Central has done an admirable job at providing support in terms of not limiting representation and expression on campus. However, I would like to state that although Central welcomes diversity and expression, we lack physical space on campus. Central is the only four-year university in the state of Washington that does not have a Center for Cultural Innovation. The Diversity and Equity Center, although welcoming and safe for folks to lounge and host meetings, is overwhelmed and spread thin when trying to allot equal space and opportunity for every ESC organization. I believe it is important for every community on campus to have equal space and access to resources which in return provides support when hosting events and meetings regularly.

Q: What has been your most memorable moment at CWU?

A: My most memorable moment at CWU has been going to open mic nights since my freshman year here. There is something about being surrounded by fearless performers giving artistic expression that makes me feel connected to the student body. Coming from a theater background, I love getting to see students perform and getting to know them as a friend. To be more specific, this year my most memorable moment was getting to lobby in front of the Washington State House of Representatives to advocate for our students and attempt to provide additional access to financial aid.

Q: When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: When I was younger, I used to tell everyone that I wanted to be a genetic engineer. Looking back on that, I am not entirely sure what a genetic engineer is or what that job entails. I’m sure I probably just wanted to sound smart, but after taking some science and math courses I knew it was not the field for me. Social science is way more fun and allows me to get to talk to people all day! And if you ask my coworkers, I’m sure they will tell you that I love to talk.