Norwich University celebrates its first Gay Pride Week - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Norwich University celebrates its first Gay Pride Week

Posted: Updated:
NORTHFIELD, Vt. -

For the first time in its nearly 200-year history, students at Norwich University are sharing an important and once hidden piece of who they are.

"I identify as a gay man," student Joshua Fontanez said.

"I identify as a heterosexual male," student Robert Morris said.

"I identify as a bisexual female," student Rikki Feightner said.

Freshman Rikki Feightner always dreamed of a military career. She got a scholarship in high school for her advocacy work on gay rights and equality-- it's helping pay her way through the military school.

"I had honestly been planning on, you know, taking the scholarship being proud of it and then going into hiding," Feightner said.

That changed on the Northfield campus when "don't ask, don't tell" was done away with last fall. Quickly, a Student Pride group emerged and this week, the university is hosting a Pride Week to promote acceptance of students who are gay, lesbian, transgender, queer, bisexual and questioning.

"We are not afraid to break barriers. We are not afraid to step outside of what most people consider in the box in the name of what we've said is a greater social good," Feightner said.

Students say for the most part the events are positive, as the community known for its traditions is being asked to embrace something new and different.

"I wouldn't say it's breaking down tradition. I'd say it's more starting new tradition and really pushing forward with this change," Morris said. "I mean it's happening. It's the next civil rights movement and you can't stay neutral on a moving train."

It may be a moving train but not everyone is on board. Our news van was tagged with a derogatory term when we visited.

"There are certainly some angry students and what we're trying to do is we're trying to reach out and understand why these people are angry," Feightner said. "And some people I understand that it's just the way they were raised or their personal beliefs."

Pride Week leaders say pushback can be expected when it comes to social change, but they say they continue to find allies on campus and are ready to support others if and when they're ready to come out.

"We're saying when you're ready to be who you are there is a community here who will embrace you and love you and support you," Fontanez said.

It's that support Feightner says has put her at ease as she comes to know herself and embrace the campus and community she loves.

"It's had its ups and downs, but I can say honestly it's been one of the most exciting weeks of my life," Feightner said.

In a statement to WCAX News about the slur found on our car, Norwich President Richard Schneider said: "I am extremely disappointed. This act was an isolated incident that does not reflect the spirit of this week's events or what Norwich stands for. This is unacceptable under any circumstances but especially during a time when our community is stepping up in such a supportive way."

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Hinesburg man in custody after alleged shooting

    Hinesburg man in custody after alleged shooting

    Friday, April 25 2014 4:04 AM EDT2014-04-25 08:04:41 GMT
    Police say a 71-year-old man is in custody accused of shooting a female relative in the hand and chest around 8:30 Thursday evening.The incident happened on Richmond Road. The Hinesburg police chief says the man was arrested without incident. He and the victim are long time residents of Hinesburg. Detectives are still investigating what sparked the shooting. But the chief says neither the victim nor the shooter have had any interactions with police before this. The woman was taken to Fletche...More >>
    Police say a 71-year-old man is in custody accused of shooting a female relative in the hand and chest around 8:30 Thursday evening.The incident happened on Richmond Road. The Hinesburg police chief says the man was arrested without incident. He and the victim are long time residents of Hinesburg. Detectives are still investigating what sparked the shooting. But the chief says neither the victim nor the shooter have had any interactions with police before this. The woman was taken to Fletche...More >>
  • Springfield police search for armed robber

    Springfield police search for armed robber

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:00 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:00:49 GMT
    Springfield Police need your help to find an armed robber. They say yesterday a white man carrying a semi-automatic handgun held-up the Jenny Wren Café on Main Street. The suspect is described as 19-29 with a slight build and no taller than 5-foot-9.Police say he had a dark buzz cut, acne, and was wearing a red Ecko hooded sweatshirt.If you have any information on the robbery call Springfield Police.More >>
    Springfield Police need your help to find an armed robber. They say yesterday a white man carrying a semi-automatic handgun held-up the Jenny Wren Café on Main Street. The suspect is described as 19-29 with a slight build and no taller than 5-foot-9.Police say he had a dark buzz cut, acne, and was wearing a red Ecko hooded sweatshirt.If you have any information on the robbery call Springfield Police.More >>
  • Arlington man facing an animal cruelty

    Arlington man facing an animal cruelty

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:03 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:03:45 GMT
    An Arlington man is facing an animal cruelty charge after police say they found a dead dog on this property.It happened at 2760 VT Route 313. Troopers were at Rick Thompson's home investigating a burglary involving a wood burning stove when they discovered the dog. Thompson told police the dog died from kennel cough but a vet later determined the dog had been starved to death. The 47-year-old is due in court next month.More >>
    An Arlington man is facing an animal cruelty charge after police say they found a dead dog on this property.It happened at 2760 VT Route 313. Troopers were at Rick Thompson's home investigating a burglary involving a wood burning stove when they discovered the dog. Thompson told police the dog died from kennel cough but a vet later determined the dog had been starved to death. The 47-year-old is due in court next month.More >>
  • Senator Sanders pushes for better access to primary care

    Senator Sanders pushes for better access to primary care

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:06 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:06:48 GMT
    Senator Bernie Sanders is pushing for better access to primary care for patients in Vermont and across the country.More >>
    Senator Bernie Sanders is pushing for better access to primary care for patients in Vermont and across the country. More >>
  • Burlington School budget one step closer to re-vote

    Burlington School budget one step closer to re-vote

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:09 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:09:20 GMT
    A new Burlington School Budget is one step closer to a re-vote in the Community.The Burlington School board voted in favor of a 67.4 million dollar budget. Dozens of parents and voters turned out Thursday night for public testimony on their thoughts and concerns on the new more expensive budget. A recent audit uncovered a 2.5 million dollar deficit forcing the board to slash about 2.5 million dollars in programming and staff. This new budget is 600-thousand dollars MORE than what was voted do...More >>
    A new Burlington School Budget is one step closer to a re-vote in the Community.The Burlington School board voted in favor of a 67.4 million dollar budget. Dozens of parents and voters turned out Thursday night for public testimony on their thoughts and concerns on the new more expensive budget. A recent audit uncovered a 2.5 million dollar deficit forcing the board to slash about 2.5 million dollars in programming and staff. This new budget is 600-thousand dollars MORE than what was voted do...More >>
  • Robber hits the same bank twice?

    Robber hits the same bank twice?

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:01 PM EDT2014-04-24 23:01:18 GMT
    A security guard and bank manager at the People's United in St. Albans held a would-be robber until police arrived. And investigators think he is the same man who robbed the bank Monday.More >>
    A security guard and bank manager at the People's United in St. Albans held a would-be robber until police arrived. And investigators think he is the same man who robbed the bank Monday.More >>
  • Man shot by Vt. cop faces charges

    Man shot by Vt. cop faces charges

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:31 PM EDT2014-04-24 23:31:24 GMT
    A man shot by an officer inside the Bennington police station faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.More >>
    A man shot by an officer inside the Bennington police station faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.More >>
  • Man charged in Vt. teacher killing wants confession tossed

    Man charged in Vt. teacher killing wants confession tossed

    Thursday, April 24 2014 2:29 PM EDT2014-04-24 18:29:39 GMT
    A Vermont man charged with killing a popular St. Johnsbury teacher is asking a judge to exclude from his upcoming trial a detailed confession he gave to police investigators.More >>
    A Vermont man charged with killing a popular St. Johnsbury teacher is asking a judge to exclude from his upcoming trial a detailed confession he gave to police investigators.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.