Meet Sam Killermann, Safe Zone Project Co-Creator

Sam Killermann

Hey friends! Sam here.

I wanted to take a moment to tell you a bit about myself (than what’s on our bio page) and explain why I’m so excited about this project Meg and I put together for you.

First off, a confession: if it weren’t for Safe Zone trainings (or ally trainings, in general), I don’t know where I’d be today, or what I’d be doing, but I can tell you it absolutely would not be what I’m doing now. And I loveĀ what I’m doing now.

Let me explain.

There once was a naive & ignorant first-year student at Purdue University called Sam…

He wasn’t aware of his ignorance, mind you, but that’s where the naivety comes in. Ever since Sam was little, people incorrectly assumed him to be gay. This led to a lot of bullying, negativity, confusion, and discomfort for Sam — and he didn’t understand it one bit. Sam had never attended a “diversity training” and would have scoffed at the idea.

Luckily, thanks to the “FreeZONE” portion of orientation at Purdue, Sam participated in his first discussion about diversity without even realizing it happened. And — unsurprisingly, if you know Sam as well as I do — he was hooked. He sought out as many conversations like this as he could find in his first years at Purdue, and found himself spending a lot of time visiting student organization meetings, the Queer Resource Center (where he received his first Safe Zone training) and striking up conversations about identity, sexuality, and gender with strangers in his dorm lobby (usually over a game of pool).

After a couple years of these conversations, he knew that “social justice” was something he was absolutely behind, and he started working in that direction. He joined a diversity theatre troupe, where the group did sketches and monologues for first-year students on issues related to identity, discrimination, and oppression. He did ally trainings and Safe Zone workshops. And he went on to grad school at Bowling Green where he studied College Student Personnel, worked in first-year programs, and focused most of his “free” time developing and facilitating diversity education programs.

And now there’s a less-ignorant, less-naive person called Sam.

You’ll never catch me saying I know everything. In fact, I hold fast to Aristotle’s “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know” and aspire toward Socrate’s “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” But I digress. I have come a long way in this near-decade since this journey began.

I believe in the power of workshops like Safe Zone to have transformative effects on participants — I’m a product of such a transformation. I also believe that the potential for that to happen lies as much in the program’s curriculum as it does in the educator. I’ve spent a good chunk of my spring working with Meg on this project because we want to take out the guesswork and provide social justice educators to have the best tool possible when it comes to gender and sexuality training — and I believe this is it.

Safe Zone is near and dear to me, and so is this project. I’ve thrown all of my knowledge from years and years of social justice training and educating at this, and I’m only one-half of the equation. I hope that means as much to you as it does to me.

Explore the site. Check out our activities, download the curriculum, and let us know how they go. You won’t be disappointed. And you might even inspire a life-changing transformation in a young me on your campus.

But maybe it’s for the best you don’t — I’m not sure we can handle more than one me running around.

Peace, Love, & Safe Zone.