United Students- An Overview

A club where many people with different gender identities come together

Frances Sheets
Four United Students members during their last meeting on Jan. 19

What started as an unofficial club twenty years ago turned out to be one of the most notable clubs at North.

United Students is a club where many students with different sexualities come together and talk in an open forum style. These talks range from personal stories to relationship advice and profiles of famous people who are on the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

There are several activities that members participate in during meetings, for example, Bingo. Occasionally, there are guest speakers that attend the meetings. During their last tutorial meeting on Jan. 19, there was a guest speaker from Middle Way House, an advocacy group specializing in domestic violence and sexual assaults.

During that meeting, members talked about relationship abuse. To further understand the difference between abuse and arguing, students read stories about fictitious couples struggling with complicated relationships. They read both sides of the story and discussed whether it was an abusive relationship or a normal argument.

United Students hold their monthly tutorial meetings in the LGI room. Their after school meetings are held in Ms. Hennessey’s room (616) with Mr. Chaffin as their club sponsor.

“I felt like I know where I was supposed to go, like I know I would go there [the club] and be who I am,” junior Tethys Berkebile said.  “And, if someone come up to me and said ‘I don’t know what to do, and I have these feelings, I don’t know what to do and I don’t want to talk about it,’ then I would say, well, why don’t you come here? They welcome anyone here.”

Meetings aside, United Students have done several activities in order to raise awareness toward LGBTQ+ students at North. One of the notable activities is  LGBTQ+ Awareness Month, which happens every November. For that month, members set up a table in the commons during lunch, full of memorabilia like bracelets and pins that they give out to students in order to raise awareness.

Another day the club recognizes is the National Day of Silence, which happens every April 21. Like the LGBTQ+ Awareness Month, they set up a table in the commons during lunch, and they give out duct tape to students to tape their mouth as a symbol of the struggle that LGBTQ+ people face.

As of today, there are over 30 United Students members. And one of the notable members of this club is junior Tethys Berkebile, and she became a member her freshman year.

“I heard this club from the announcements,” Berkebile said. “The announcement said ‘Are you a lesbian, gay, bisexual? Then join this club!’ Then I was like, this might be something that I can join into.”

Frances Sheets
United Students Vice President, Isabel Burnfield.

Vice President of the club is Isabel Burnfield, junior, who was elected as Vice President about a month ago. As a Vice President, she helps the President Hannah Ledbetter in coordinating events and planning field trips.

United Students has organized several field trips. One of the trips was to the Indiana University Wells Library, where they talked to college students about campus life. They also went to an IU summit last year, where they met with a larger LGBTQ+ youth group.

Overall, United Students is an interesting club that is worth joining, especially if you want to get to know LGBTQ+ students at North and talk with them. Plus, it’s a Gay-Straight Alliance Club, so you do not need to be on the LGBTQ+ spectrum in order to join.

“I would recommend anyone to come, really,” Burnfield said. “Any straight, gay, young, lonely people, anyone can come […] it’s just a good support group for LGBTQ+ students. And, it’s just really supportive.”