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From a 2001 Rice Thresher article Ally program discussion to address homophobia by Aalok Mehta…

“The Rice Ally program began when a program called Safe Zone, organized by Heather Syrett, the Community Involvement Center director, was incorporated into the Counseling Center.  The Rice Ally program grew out of several students’ concerns that existing Rice institutions were not adequately addressing issues of sexual orientation. Some members of Pride (a pre-cursor to Queers & Allies), an organization that provides support to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual members of the Rice community, expressed frustration with the lack of a stance on same-sex issues by the College Assistance Peer Program. Dr. Michael Winters, a staff adviser to CAPP and a Counseling Center staff psychologist, attended a Pride meeting and also saw a need for additional support.

Winters, Syrett and Student Affairs staff member Boyd Beckwith met with faculty members and students to discuss options.

“It made sense to do this as part of our outreach effort, addressing issues like this affecting the campus as a whole,” Winters said. “Anything that addresses oppression is helpful.

“There isn’t a blatant hostility to bisexuals, gays and lesbians on campus, but there is a silent lack of acceptance,” he said. “Rice is not as affirmative a community as it could be.”

The name of the program refers to people trained to support students concerned with gay, lesbian and bisexual issues. ”

Until the Fall of 2011 the workshops were facilitated by Dr. Micheal Winters, who retired from Rice as the Director of the Rice Counseling Center on June 30, 2011.