Ryan, a junior in global studies and sociology, also started the Student Peace Alliance on campus, is a student assistant to global studies, started the global studies club, is chair of the Haslam Scholars Programming Committee and is one of the founding members of the UT Diversity Matters Coalition.
- For me, SEAT was definitely the first student organization I think I became involved in at all. My first semester of my freshman year I was going to different club meetings and trying to find a place to fit in. I guess I was starting global studies club at the same time as I joined SEAT, so I guess those are even in time I’ve been involved. But SEAT has been the biggest involvement, and it thrust me into getting involved in campus life. From SEAT, I started getting involved in sexual assault prevention stuff, started meeting other students in other student organizations and working collaboratively with other student organizations.
- My parents were both in the Navy and … I lived in DC before moving to Cookeville. We were told that my family was a little too worldly for Cookeville. It was like growing up in what was a relatively progressive, not necessarily sex positive but more progressive home than the conservative small town didn’t necessarily mesh well with. It was like at home I was hearing all these different perspectives, being encouraged to be inclusive and open minded, and then going to school where students who didn’t look like me were harassed, students who didn’t believe the same things that were commonplace in that environment were not thought very highly of. I was very ready to get out of Cookeville and go to college which I was very optimistic would be more progressive and just a better, more welcoming environment to all people. Then I ended up choosing UT Knoxville, which has been a great home for me but has not been for every student. That desire to be in a place that is warm and welcoming to get to hear from different perspectives that I was denied in my hometown and to a certain extent denied here at UT has been a motivating factor for my involvement in SEAT and other things in trying to push diverse and inclusive conversations.
Thoughts on activism
To Colleen Ryan, junior in global studies, activism is ....
"Working towards benefiting their campus community in whatever way they see fit," Ryan said. "Not just signing a petition, but working to create meaningful change."
As an executive member of Sexual Empowerment and Awareness at Tennessee, Ryan is working now to promote an inclusive and open campus community capable of discussing issues such as sexual assault, health and identity. She plays an active role in organizing Sex Week as well as working closely with events promoting the campus LGBT community. Ryan said through the continual efforts of S.E.A.T. and OUTreach, she believes the campus community is more open to discussing these issues than it ever has been in the past.
"I've seen a student body who is more willing to communicate about these issues and who recognize the importance of dialogue in preventing sexual assault and giving people the opportunity to express their identities," Ryan said.
For Ryan, helping students become educated about sexual health as well as learning how to express their sexual identities is what encourages her to continue working for S.E.A.T. and OUTreach.
"To me, sexuality is a critical part of a person's identity," Ryan said. "So, I wanted to be a part of a movement that allowed students to have more autonomy over that.".
Event in Knoxville 1800 Melrose Ave, Tuesday 6 October 2015
State lawmakers will join the United Campus Workers, UT College Democrats, Progressive Student Alliance and Statewide Organizing for Community Empowerment during a fact-finding trip to learn more about the potential impact of the Governor's plan to possibly bring privatization to the campus of UT Knoxville.
Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris and state Rep. John Ray Clemmons will hear from campus employees, students and faculty about the potential impacts that layoffs and outsourcing will have on their families and campus life. Organized by Jasmine Taylor.
Those indicating their intention to attend, on Wherevent, included Matt Roach, Elizabeth Stanfield, Savannah Lucas, Ann League, Jamie Greig, Melanie Barron, Madeleine Lewis, Adam Hughes, Matt Anderson, Jack Petschulat, Coy Wakefield, Carter Hall, Jordan Welsh, Gloria Johnson, Eric Dixon, Anna Gardner, Caroline Cranford, Alex Fields, Will Gabelman, Josh Smyser, Courtney Anderson, Colleen Ryan, Katie Myers, Karly Safar, Hayley Brundige, William Dirmeyer, Feroza Freeland, Ciara Malaugh, Bonnie Swinford, Cassie Watters, Phyliss Dubinsky Shey, Meghan Martin, Prestyr John .
"Say Zir Name"
Dunford Hall room 2326 Thursday 12 November 2015, organized by UTK Progressive Student Alliance "Say Zir Name".
- Special guest Cazembe Jackson, our trans brother and bad ass organizer for South will share his story as a transman in the movement and how he held his comrades accountable for his pronouns. He will also make awareness for pronouns and elevating trans existance more intersectional mentioning policy brutality and mass incarceration of black transwomen.
Those indicating attendance on Wherevent included Melanie Barron, Kristin Moretz, Lucy Greer, LaSabra LeeAnn Williams, Emily Gregg, Donna Bra-kay, Morgan Smith, Rachel West, Allison Joslin, Kristen Godfrey, Amira Sakalla, Caroline Rogers, Meghan Martin, Elizabeth Stanfield, Alina Clay, Jocelyn B. White, Gwen Schablik, Jamie Greig, Breann Cooper, Mary Geiser, Lindsay Jai, Cris Dark, Hanna Cat Wilkinson, Becca Payton, Genevieve Jeter, Priyam Madhukar, Leigh Belmont, Nicky Frazier, Courtney Anderson, Chelsey Verzosa, Charlotte Lee, Maggie Marsh, Erica Davis, Catherine Boggan, Alyssa Loveday, Hayley Brundige, Anna Masson, Karly Safar, Danielle Sapore, Sara Hitson, Emily Hoffman, Madeleine Lewis, Amanda Eleanor Pitts, Kennedy Childress, Deanna Nagle, Rachel Pilkinton, Ciara Louise Naomi, Evie Briley, Elizabeth Wright, Bailey Ayanna Allen, Katie Myers, Charice Starr, Colleen Ryan, Kelsey Theodore, Kamilya Gosmanova, Emily Robinson, Rae Jones, Kate Stamper, Carlie Nicole, Yasameen Hoffman-Shahin, Kaleb Emmert, Klay Ra Willyn, Travis Daniel Wilson, Brandon Shaw, Johnathan DeWitt Clayton, David Alex Hayes, Mitch Thompson, David Collins, Will Clifft, Ariel Tesla Farley, Joshua Brown, Don Black, Kumail Ibraheem, Andy Renison, William Dirmeyer, Benjamin D. Young, Adam Hughes, Ben McClendon, John Pena, Robert Cremins, Noah King, Mark McKee, Jack Petschulat, Jordan Welsh, Brandon Ray Darr, Jenishea Lewis, Alex Fields, Rodolfo Urquieta, Will Gabelman, JT Taylor, Dhruv Majumdar, Tyler Kibbey, Devin Earhart, Thomas Tran, Geoffrey M. Bennett Hervey, Harlan Mitchell, Wesley Shaun Malik Williams, Kendrick Young.