Editor’s Note — This Q&A is part of a weekly conversation series that is celebrating Pride Month on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Medium page.
his week, meet Taylor Jarvis, an accounting major with minors in economics and political science from Lincoln. As the internal vice president for the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska, she’s using her leadership position to advocate for others.
In your interview with the Daily Nebraskan earlier this year, you touched on how homophobic situations you’ve confronted helped you connect with other marginalized groups. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
The most intense homophobia that I’ve experienced occurred during Pride Month of 2020. The homophobia that I experienced felt all-consuming for several weeks and deeply affected my mental state in a negative way. My experience showed me how isolating and draining it feels when individuals have to advocate for themselves alone; when peers, friends and organizations won’t step up to advocate for marginalized communities in uncomfortable situations. My experience was minimal compared to what many marginalized (University of Nebraska–Lincoln) community members have to face every day, but it furthered my determination to ensure that no one has to advocate for themselves alone.
You were the ASUN appointments board chair last year. Talk about working to make the process more inclusive and why these efforts, even if they’re small in scale, are important.
At the beginning of my term as appointments board chair, my team and I identified the goal of broadening ASUN membership and making the organization more inclusive. One of the ways the board worked towards this goal was through passing legislation in fall 2020 which added a pronouns line to all ASUN applications. Through adding the line, we hoped to make ASUN more welcoming of transgender and non-binary students. Inclusive efforts are always important, no matter their size, because over time those efforts will accumulate to change the culture of an organization for the better. Additionally, small changes often feel more approachable. I would much rather an organization make a small inclusive effort than no effort at all.
What are you looking forward to in your position as ASUN internal vice president?
I am excited to develop relationships with my ASUN team, students, faculty and staff. I believe the basis of change at the university is strong relationships. When ASUN creates relationships with students and makes ourselves available to them, we can better discover their needs and serve them. If my team has fostered solid relationships with faculty and staff, we are often better able to address student concerns. Ultimately, I am looking forward to helping our university continue to grow towards its potential. I truly believe our university is capable of so much. We must push to have uncomfortable conversations and properly allocate resources in order to reach our full potential.
How do your involvements on campus (through ASUN, the Nebraska Business Honors Academy, etc.) help you advocate for others and/or make an impact?
My involvements allow me to see opportunities for change and growth, as well as providing resources to help me enact that change. Within ASUN, our budget permits us to fund ideas that we believe will make a positive impact on campus. The trust that faculty and staff extend to ASUN as an institution gives us the opportunity to converse with them about student issues. My involvements also give me a team to advocate with. I can achieve so much more with the support and encouragement of my teammates than I could alone.
Is there anything you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?
Throughout my life, I would like to be happy and surrounded by fulfilling relationships. I’ve dealt with mental health issues that have shown me that positive mental health, rather than material accomplishments, should be my ultimate focus. In the end, devoting time to mental health upkeep will provide me with the ability to pursue other goals.
What or who inspires/motivates you?
Nebraska State Sen. Megan Hunt is my most inspirational policy role model. Sen. Hunt was the first openly LGBTQ+ individual to be elected to the Nebraska Unicameral. Prior to her election, I doubted my ability to serve in Nebraska in elected positions. Sen. Hunt showed me that I can be open about who I am and serve the community that I love. It may be more challenging to focus on uncomfortable issues and be open about my sexuality. Still, my student government experience is much more productive because of it, both for myself and the students I represent.
What is your advice to other Huskers looking to make an impact?
I would tell other Huskers to first identify a community or organization that’s important to them, whether that’s your academic department, a recognized student organization, or an organization in greater Lincoln. In communities that you’re actively engaged in, it’s easier to find tangible ways to make an impact. Plus, you’re able to positively change an organization that you truly care about. I would also tell Huskers not to be intimidated by advocacy, and that small actions really do still make a difference for those around you.