At a meeting on Monday, the Queer Action Collective voted to support non-autonomy for the Queerspace, which would allow non-Queer-identifying students to enter the space as long as they are in the company of Queer-identifying friends. However, Honi Soit understands that several QuAC members are upset that this decision was taken without adequate consultation and it may be revised in the near future. Ultimately, the decision will be taken by the USU Board, on the advice of its Queer Convenors, QuAC, and the SRC Queer Officers.
The USU Board has flagged it will consider changing the autonomous nature of the Queerspace and open it up to non-queer identifying students.
Honorary Secretary Zachary Thompson, who also holds the Board’s Queer Portfolio, told Honi Soit the autonomy of the space was “something that will be reviewed in my term”. Mr Thompson plans to hold a forum later in the year which will be open to submissions “from the queer community and anyone who’s interested”. “It’s not my job to push my agenda,” he said. “I don’t want to railroad anybody or make a decision until we’ve got everybody’s input.”
The move would likely be opposed by the SRC’s Queer Action Collective, which supports autonomy and holds its weekly meetings in the space.
QUAC was not able to comment within the time frame necessary for this story.
This is not a new debate: a push away from autonomy began under the tenure of former USU Board Director Ben Tang. Last year a proposal to label the space “Queer Friendly”, rather than exclusive, was discussed but eventually folded.
Nathan Li, former SRC Queer Officer and now USU Queer Convenor, supports an autonomous Queerspace because “there are half a dozen people who…don’t feel comfortable otherwise”. He told Honi the debate about autonomy has been restarted by the Board, not the Queer Convenors.
Mr Thompson said the Queerspace is currently under-utilised and would benefit from change “whether in terms of autonomy or a new paint scheme”. He said the location of the room, and a lack of awareness and understanding of what it means for different parts of the queer community, contributed to its poor patronage. Changing this is understood to be a priority for the USU Board.
“If we get a feeling there is an aspect of our program that’s not performing or reaching its potential, we’ve got to change that,” Mr Thompson said. “We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t question the autonomy [of the space] with an aim to do that.”