Professors show support for LGBTQIA+ students

By Caroline Haviland

In April 2023, a diversity, equity and inclusion campus climate survey showed that 29% of students, 25% being LGBTQIA+, often received disparaging remarks— frequently from faculty, staff or administrators. The response to those results sparked a program new to Rider, titled Professors United for a Safe Haven (PUSH) BACK. 

Erica Ryan, director of the Gender and Sexuality Studies program, had the idea to initiate a faculty group to showcase support for LGBTQIA+ students when she came across PUSH BACK, a program originating from Monmouth University. 

Along with the help of fellow GSS professors Justin Burton, Megan Titus, Tara Joseph, Laurel Harris and Melissa Hoffman, Ryan began Rider’s own affiliate. 

“We wanted to do something very visible and public that would let students know that the Gender and Sexuality Studies program supports them, but a whole bunch of other professors still support this community,” Ryan said.

Since the establishment of the group, Ryan has sent out emails to faculty encouraging them to join the association, leading to 33 faculty members in total, with the hope to keep growing. Bosah Ebo, a professor and fellow faculty member of PUSH BACK, explained that faculty should get involved in this program to “allow students to really celebrate themselves.”

As the program’s facilitator for the upcoming academic year, Ryan discussed what PUSH BACK has coordinated to do for Rider’s student body. 

“Every year for National Coming Out Day we will write a letter in support of LGBTQIA+ students,” Ryan said. “We will ask faculty, staff and administration to come and sign that letter, and it will then be sent to the Student Government Association. We will commit to doing this every year.”

Along with this letter, PUSH BACK is interested in providing leverage to any social justice issue that occurs on campus. 

Burton, an associate professor in music production and a fellow faculty member of PUSH BACK, spoke about what he believes PUSH BACK can do for LGBTQIA+ students at Rider.

 “The hope is that we can work with students to find solutions to problems that are happening on campus … and collaboratively we can figure out how to solve it,” Burton said.

This chapter of PUSH BACK was started for the purpose that Rider students understand their faculty recognizes the challenges students face on and off campus. “I just want to send that message home to students that their faculty are here for them and that we care about them,” Ryan said.

Any faculty member interested in joining PUSH BACK can send a message to

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