Pride Month: Legislative Edition

By: Kyrios LoNigro

This year is seemingly the worst on record for LGBT+ equality. More than 250 anti-LGBT+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the U.S. Texas is the leading state with 12 bills being proposed this legislative session, targeting transgender youth. One banning a type of school sports participation and, another, health care access to transgender children. and another. Debates over transgender people living freely in the U.S. have been shown to have negative consequences on their mental health.

Mateo Marquez, theater student, says his K-12 experience was exhausting. In high school he encountered more than name-calling, just for being a transgender student.

“Freshman year I was threatened,” Marquez said. “I was harassed [by one specific classmate.]”

Marquez’s classmate told others at school that transgender people needed to die. Despite this harassment, Marquez says the school did not seek disciplinary action against the boy. This type of discrimination causes many transgender students to drop out of school.

The Trevor Project is the country’s biggest LGBT+ youth crisis phone line, focused on supporting suicide prevention efforts for those under the age of 25. Phone calls drastically increase when when trans-phobic rhetoric circulates and bills are proposed.

Missi Patterson an ALLY at ACC said, “I hear so many people in the lawmaking community say, ‘You’re either a man or a woman. It’s just science.’ I want them to understand that that’s not even true.”

Texas and Florida are the two top states with the most instances of Fatal Anti-Trans violence, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

“It’s scary because your life is at risk here – they’re making fun of you solely because you’re trans.” Marquez said. “You don’t want to be hate-crimed for it, but you also want to stick up for yourself.”

Ari Thomas, a health science student who is also gay and non binary. Although they believe their sexuality hasn’t received negative responses at ACC, they have not come out as non-binary.

“I’ve never had anybody say anything to me just because I’m gay,” said Thomas. “People don’t know I’m non binary at ACC but that’s mostly because I’m doing online classes and haven’t gone to in-person classes yet.”

Thomas expressed that if they did encounter discrimination they wouldn’t know how to handle it due to lack of face-to-face interactions with instructors in remote classes and online information.

“I’ve never seen anything LGBT related on the website,” said Thomas.

Neither Marquez nor Thomas knew about ACC’s LGBT+ Equity Committee, whose aim is to provide education to faculty, staff, and students at ACC about LGBT+ issues.

A primary component of the committee is their advocacy for long-term systemic change that can be achieved by policy revisions and support networks through their ALLY program and events.

Despite one of the committee’s goals of providing support, the committee is not often easily accessible. A Google search brings you to their Facebook where little information is provided on the committee – only their email.

“You have to know how to search for us,” Matthew Campbell, co-chair of ACC’s LGBT+ Equity Committee, said. Campbell said the secrecy is due to bigoted language they have received in response to trying to reach students through ACC’s email contact lists.

“It’s usually on the lines of homophobic or religiously motivated,” Campbell said. “We don’t do that anymore.”

Campbell also shared the committee is working with ACC to require students to participate in sensitivity training to mitigate the issue after they expand their ALLY program. So, for the moment, the committee is building their own email lists and operating by word of mouth.

 “All organizations have to go through a chain to be able to access those email addresses,” Campbell said.

Interested students must opt into receiving their newsletters and emails. Campbell shared that the committee has been receiving more engagement recently, but the pandemic has made connecting to students difficult, being that information isn’t as easily found on posters on campus or other ways.

In her psychology class, Patters creates space for her LGBT+ students by asking them to put their pronouns in their zoom names. Additionally, she asks them to provide their preferred name at the beginning of class.

The Ally Program trains ACC employees to create space and support for LGBT+ students. Employees of ACC can become an ally by filling out an interest form. Interested parties will be notified when a training is available.

“[The training] wasn’t difficult at all,” Patterson said. “We had an incredible guest speaker from UT and it was really enjoyable.”

In addition to the ALLY training, Patterson recommends training on how to be an advocate through organizations like the Texas Freedom Network, Texas Rising, and Equality Texas.

Many LGBT+ youth and adults are not accepting of these bills filled with trans-phobic rhetoric being proposed into the Texas legislature.

“We don’t need people checking our genitals. End of story. We are who we are. We are just like everyone else,” Marquez said.


Mateo Marquez, Ari Thomas, Missi Patterson, Matthew Campbell
(left to right) Mateo Marquez, Art Thomas, Missi Patterson, Matthew Campbell

Signing Up with a Study Group

The Study Session I attended has introduced me to an additional resource on my academic journey, one that I will be heavily utilizing in the future. I recommend that any student struggling with a class or requiring a place to review take advantage of all the Learning Lab has to offer.

By: Jaxon Williams

In this time of remote learning, Austin Community College resources have found ways to support students in challenges that come with virtual classrooms. Shortly before the pandemic, the Learning Lab began offering study group sessions where students could easily register for a wide array of online tutoring sessions with their ACC Gmail accounts, held through services like Zoom and Google Meet. As more and more students transitioned to remote learning the attendance numbers for all Learning Lab online sessions shot up. So much so that the Learning Lab made the effort to hire full time online instructors to help meet the new demand. Wondering myself exactly what benefits students were receiving from participating in these sessions, I decided to register for one myself.  

After attending my first online session, it was clear to me that the Learning Lab at ACC is one of the most valuable resources available to students. A resource that I myself have not been taking advantage of. My experience with the Learning Lab and with their online methods of instruction was nothing short of insightful as well as convenient. From the process of registering to the actual delivery of the instruction, the Learning Lab has definitely managed to make something that could be difficult to navigate and plan out so streamlined and quick. All students need to do is visit ACC’s website and register for a session under the ‘Tutoring’ tab. There, students will find a calendar with a list of future sessions in a variety of different subjects. It only takes registering with an ACC ID and email to reserve a space for you in the session held through Google Meet. The session that I attended was centered around Redox Reactions in Chemistry. I myself am not majoring in science, but surprisingly I was still able to keep up and participate in the session. The instructor took the time to answer any questions I had while also making sure that what was being reviewed was being fully understood. No stone was left unturned. No question unanswered. The experience as a whole was surprising and incredibly insightful. It made me wonder how I had gone for so long without taking advantage of such a useful service. 

After having such a positive experience, I decided to reach out to José Resendez, a tutor at the Learning Lab, to discuss what benefits students saw after participating in online study groups. Resendez shared that students who participated in these study groups on a regular basis saw an improvement in their class performance. Not only that, Resendez also reported that the majority of students who attended the Learning Lab sessions were successful in both graduating and transferring to other institutions. He credits these figures to the fact that by attending sessions on a regular basis. Resendez said that “Students begin building the good study habits that are the foundation for success.”. 

The study session I attended has introduced me to an additional resource on my academic journey, one that I will be heavily utilizing in the future. I recommend that any student struggling with a class or requiring a place to review take advantage of all the Learning Lab has to offer.  Getting started with these good study habits is as easy as going to ACC’s website. There, you will find the option to sign up for online study sessions under the Tutoring tab of the Student Support section of the website. All available upcoming sessions will be shown in the list of Learning Lab Virtual Events. 

ACCENT On Air E00

ACCENT is launching a new podcast, called ACCENT on Air. This weekly podcast is created to be a one-stop-shop for the essential information that students at Austin Community College need.

By: Zeus Enole

First Episode of our new Spotify Podcast

ACCENT is launching a new podcast, called ACCENT on Air. This weekly podcast is created to be a one-stop-shop for the essential information that students at Austin Community College need. Each episode includes announcements or reminders about upcoming events. Additionally, every episode will have a guest speaker help us take a closer look at a service or resource that the college  provides.

The first episode, E00, is a pilot introducing this new project. It includes an interview with Multimedia and Social Media Coordinator for Student Affairs Communication, Halie Ramirez, as well as information about ACC’s Community Resources page. You’ll also hear about the following announcements and events:

  • The college was closed Sunday, April 4.
  • The priority deadline for ACC’s General Scholarship has been extended to May 1. Visit https://www.austincc.edu/students/scholarships for more information on how to get started. 
  • Summer Registration opened  April 5 for current students. For new students, registration will open on April 19. 
  • The last day to withdraw from classes this semester is April 26.
  • ACCENT Student Media hosted a Kahoot trivia event with Student Life on April 5. Attendees were able to test their knowledge on 2000’s to 2010’s pop culture.  
  • Student Life hosted  a Leadership Development Workshop called Building Your Personal Brand on April 7 at 4 p.m.
  • Riverbat Success Programming  is hosting the virtual event: Poetry for Take Back the Night on April 9 at 5 p.m.
  • Join Student Life for their virtual watch party of “A Mile in His Shoes” on April 12 at 3 p.m.

In the interview with Halie Ramirez, we discussed her role at ACC as well as her position as faculty advisor to ACCENT. When asked about her involvement in ACCENT, she talked about her experience in student media while she was in college. 

“That’s where I got to build my network for my career,” she told us, “which, I like to say [that] every job I’ve ever had–I would not have gotten there without having someone from my network to help me get there. Every student should be involved in a student organization in some way; you never know who you’re going to meet. That’s a part of higher education, is building that professional network.”

 Listen to the full interview on IGTV or Spotify. Subscribe and never miss an episode.

You can find more updates on our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Have an announcement you’d like us to include in future episodes? Email us at editor@austincc.edu

Volunteering During a Time of Isolation; What Students Can Do?

ACC staff and community members provide different perspectives on volunteering in isolated times.

By: Renata Salazar

As a college student, volunteering is essential when seeking to become involved in your community and craft better relationships. With hundreds of volunteering options and resources, it can be overwhelming to take initiative and find the best option for you. ACCENT spoke to Austin Community College’s Service-Learning Program Coordinator Sabryna Groves, to get a better understanding of the steps students should take to find volunteer opportunities and what it means to become an active community member. ACC student, Olivia Cruz,also gives us insight on what she gained from her experience volunteering through ACC.

As COVID continues, Groves gives us her thoughts on how the pandemic has affected community involvement. 

“I have seen a lot of volunteer organizations are pivoting to work virtual opportunities and safe socially distant options into their agenda. Virtual volunteering is great but I think we will still see a demand for in-person volunteering.” 

Groves believes that our social climate has played a part in the increased demand of students in search of volunteer opportunities. Movements such as Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate have encouraged students to get involved within the community.

“There is a lot of motivation for people to become involved in their community I think now more than ever, and there is a serious demand for us as ACC faculty to make opportunities as visible and accessible to students,” Groves said.

Before the pandemic, Cruz volunteered through Student Life by participating the monthly food distributions that are partners with Central Texas Food Bank. 

“I very much enjoyed volunteering for student life at ACC. I wish I had the opportunity to do it again. I felt like I really had a place and all the people around me had the same intentions to help out,” Cruz said.

Since COVID, Cruz feels that there has been a tremendous decline of volunteer work. Due to safety protocols, gathering in groups and social interaction is not as common as it was before. Cruz shared that she feels that ACC should bring more awareness to virtual volunteering opportunities for students. . 

Groves gives us her top three resources for volunteering through ACC. First would be for students to start at Student Life and look for volunteer work there. Next would be Riverbat Reach, a website that includes 30 different community partnersj that the college has. Through Riverbat Reach, students can join the volunteer program and find work suitable to their needs.. As the final resource, Groves recommends givepulse, a website that provides multiple opportunities. Here students can create a free account with their ACC email and find up-to-date information on volunteering options. 

Groves is currently working with ACC students in the visual communications area of study  to learn how to make volunteering opportunities more accessible to students like Cruz in the future. Students can fill out this survey and participate in helping ACC encourage and present more opportunities to students to give back.

“When you’re working with people within your community and you’re having conversations about social issues, and working together to make a change it’s a very fulfilling feeling,” says Groves. “It gives you a reason to care about Austin and like being able to give back to the community.”

A Therapy Guide To Virtual Counseling

ACCENT spoke with Manuel Zamarripa, Associate Dean of Counseling, about ACC’s virtual mental health support services.

By: Angela Murillo-Martinez

As Austin Community College enters another semester of distance learning, the college’s mental health counseling services have adapted to support students at a virtual scope. ACCENT spoke with Manuel Zamarripa, Associate Dean of Counseling, about the support and resources ACC offers.

The balance between work, school, hobbies and education can seem like too much to handle at times–especially during a global pandemic.. And with campuses being closed to non-essential faculty, staff and students this too means that counseling sessions have moved as an online service. Students can continue to receive private counseling from their own home through virtual sessions. ACC offers free mental health counseling to currently enrolled students. 

You get a first session, where you get a lot of background information,”  Zamarripa said. ““Then you get six sessions after that, so you get a total of seven sessions with a counselor individually.

Some have trouble deciding when and if to visit with a counselor or therapist. Mental health isn’t a one size fits all situation, but ACC’s counselors are trained to work with anyone, no matter their situation. And if needed, the counselors can always provide referrals.

It can be anywhere from, ‘Hey, I need someone to support me,’ or ‘I have a couple of decisions coming up that I need to make,’ or ‘I’m feeling kind of stuck,”’” Zamarripa said.

Students can schedule appointments through the counseling page found on the ACC website. In these sessions students can talk to trained clinicians who can speak to you about various topics. All sessions are private and confidential unless the student provides written permission to share information with someone else. ACC not only provides individual counseling but also has group counseling.

“We do offer groups, which are another good way to get support,” Zamarripa said. ““We offer about two to three groups every semester, and the topics always change; some of them stay the same.”

The topics discussed in these group counseling meetings tend to change every semester, although they are a couple of topics that remain as students continue to request them.

“We get the most requests for anxiety and dealing with anxiety,”Zamarripa said.  ““So we tend to offer some groups in some way about anxiety to help students.””

Although the idea of group counseling can seem nerve-racking at first, being around students who have similar struggles as you can create a great support system. It can also help you realize that you are not alone and see that you have others rooting for you.

“It can be really supportive, but it can also be to the other end, like some people who are having severe anxiety or severe depression,”  Zamarripa said. ““They can come in, and we try to help them find strategies of coping.””

Although taking that first step towards therapy can seem scary, ACC’s counselors are here to help every step of the way, so you are not alone. As we continue to physically distance ourselves from others and take socialization to a virtual realm Zamarripa emphasizes the importance of checking in on one another, but more importantly, on yourself.