29 March 2011

Satisfy your Queeriosity

The Queer Space is officially open for 2011! It’s freshly renovated - ready for a new crowd and aiming to provide a safe space on campus for those that identify as Queer (or questioning). Located in the Holme building, there are lounges for you to relax on, plus a kitchen area equipped with a microwave, fridge and boiling water. Just walk past the Courtyard Café and down stairs and there you’ll find it. For the door code, please contact our Queer Event Coordinators via email at queercoordinator@usu.usyd.edu.au

In the middle of March, I put a motion on notice to the USU Board of Directors to change the autonomous status of the Queer Space. Having recently been involved in Queer and Queer-friendly groups such as Shades and the Queer Revue, I noticed the distinctively changed nature of queer activities on campus. It made me rethink whether autonomy of such a space was really necessary anymore. The passion from both sides of the argument was surprising, but truly fantastic – it was great to see strong views from such a large number of people, all of whom evidently care a great deal about this issue.

A queer forum entitled “Should [the Queer Space] remain autonomous?” was held the week before the board meeting, and housed a variety of compelling perspectives. If you are interested in reading the minutes from the meeting, you can read them here. While there was healthy debate on both sides of the argument, the overlying concerns were:
1) The accessibility of the QS for first years who may still be finding their identity;
2) Maintaining it as a space for those that needed it as a refuge and;
3) The uninviting nature of the space

Thanks to everyone who participated in this discussion. The opinions expressed at this forum (as well as the many emails we received) directly informed the board and stands as a compelling example of how a student-run union can significantly influence a student’s experience at university.

In the spirit of maintaining a strong student programme that holds both diversity and inclusivity at its core, there will not be a change to the autonomous status of the space (i.e. it will remain a space for queer-identifying and questioning students only).

Instead, we hope to move in a direction where we can work in conjunction with the Queer Event Coordinators, the SRC Queer Collective, SHADES, the Queer Revue and other student groups to hold an occasional Queer and Queer-friendly event in the space. These will be scheduled and promoted in advance so to not impugn on the otherwise autonomous status of the room.

This is a positive step forward for students and for all stakeholders. These events will act as gateways for new students to discover the space and learn to access it as a source of information, a safe space and to tap into a supportive environment. If students cease to require it under the terms described above, we will re-evaluate.

If you are having any problems at university, please do not hesitate in using the University’s counselling service http://sydney.edu.au/stuserv/counselling/

As well as the Code of Conduct for Students, the University also has a Discrimination Prevention Policy http://sydney.edu.au/eeo/docs/discrim.pdf

Upcoming events:
Queer Space Launch, 5.30pm Monday 4th April [Queer Space]
SHADES First Years Welcome Drinks, 6.30pm Monday 4th April [Hermanns Bar]
Identity, Week 9-13
Pride Week, TBC

Queer Girl Drinks, every Wednesday from 5pm [Manning Bar]
SRC Queer Collective Meetings, every Monday at 1pm [Queer Space]
Queer Revue Writers Workshops, weekly [various, see facebook group]

Thanks again,

Ben Tang
Queer Portfolio
Board Director

Student Life, Student Run: Applications for Humanitarian Week Director/s, Interfaith Week Director/s, O-Week Directors and Hermes Editors still open! Apply now at http://www.usuonline.com/

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