A comprehensive review has begun into whether the Queerspace is being used effectively. USU President Astha Rajvanshi said that the review would consider “whether factors like location, accessibility, autonomy, furniture and resources are affecting its use.”
Ms Rajvanshi stressed that a thorough consultation of the queer community will occur before any decisions are made. “Any changes to the furniture or a make-over of the space will only occur after a thorough review indicates that this is in the best interests of the queer community,” she said.
SRC Queer Officer Rebecca Alchin welcomed the idea of potential changes. “Any new furniture and other things to make the space a more comfortable place would be greatly appreciated and welcomed by the Queer Action Collective (QuAC),” she said.
However, some of the issues under review are set to prove more difficult than others. A controversy was created in August when an impromptu vote was held in a QuAC meeting to gauge people’s views on autonomy. To the surprise of many, a motion in favour of a non-autonomous space was passed, whereby which straight people could enter provided they were accompanied by queer-identifying friends.
This led a number of people to believe that the Queerspace had become non-autonomous. However, this was not the case, as QuAC lacks the authority to make decisions about the autonomy of the space.
Rather, this responsibility lies with the USU Board of Directors. “The autonomous status of the space will only be changed after proper consultation with our members is carried out,” explained Ms Rajvanshi. “After consulting the members, a recommendation regarding any changes to the Queerspace or autonomy will be put forward to the Board to discuss and vote on at a consecutive board meeting. Alternatively, this recommendation can be made at a general meeting to allow the members to vote on the issue.”
According to Ms Alchin, the vote held in August was not reflective of the views of the majority of the collective. “Autonomy aims to meet the needs of those who feel they need a safe space on campus, and I believe most of the collective would agree that it is only fair and in the interests of those people that autonomy is maintained,” she said.
Ms Rajvanshi cited a number of actions that would be taken to gauge the views of the community. “[This will] include doing research into the autonomous status of the space and the reasons for its autonomy in the past, speaking to the Queer Officers and QuAC, holding policy forums with the queer and wider community and even getting feedback through surveys,” she said.
The review is planned to be completed by late this year or early 2013.