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Walla Walla, WA
Friday, December 8, 2023


May 18, 2023
Megan Carreon

WWU’S Safe Place for LGBTQ+ Students

Megan Carreon

Haven is Walla Walla University’s care group for students who want to connect with other LGBTQ+ individuals. Members meet weekly in a nondisclosed location to find companionship. It’s an anonymous group so that members know they are safe.  

WWU is committed to “following the example of Jesus, who crossed barriers, challenged prejudices, and embraced the marginalized groups of His day.” [1] Haven is one way that WWU acts on this commitment. 

Haven was born in 2018 out of administrators listening to the needs of students and officially launched in the fall of 2019. Michelle Naden, Clinical Director of the Counseling Center, visited Andrews University to learn from their established Haven group. Naden gathered information about the structure and leadership of WWU’s sister schools’ way of doing things.   

This is an unsafe time for many marginalized groups, Adventist LGBTQ+ people being one of them. Students who feel like they need a place to connect with other LGBTQ+ find that safe community in Haven.  

The church finds itself caught in the middle of this polarizing climate but Haven board members Dr. Doug Tilstra, Vice President of Student life, Dr. Pedrito Maynard-Reid, Assistant to the President of the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, and Michelle Naden, Clinical Director of the Counseling Center, believe that it is their duty to create a space of belonging for every student that attends WWU.  

To gain admittance to Haven a student must have a conversation with one of the facilitators. This is part of a screening process that keeps Haven safe. To contact a facilitator email  

Haven and its leaders will continue to take their cues from Jesus’s loving example and work to provide care, love, and connection to all LGBTQ+ students who need it.  


  1. WWU haven: Our framework. (n.d.). Walla Walla University.  
  2. Interview with Dr. Tilstra, 5/15/2023. 
  3. Interview with Dr. Maynard-Reid, 5/15/2023. 
  4. Interview with Michelle Naden, 5/15/2023. 



  1. Photo by ASWWU. 
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