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July 24, 2017 | by  | in Editorial | [ssba]

State of the [Gay] Union

Alex dani web

UniQ co-presidents Alex and Dani


Haere mai and welcome to Queerlient! Each year, UniQ takes over Salient during Pride Week and, ahem, themes it as appropriately (or inappropriately!) as we see fit. Amongst other things, it’s also a chance for us to make a presidential address like this — our State of the [Gay] Union, if you will.

First of all, we want to offer our humblest apologies for our non-appearance at Clubs Week in the Hub last week — hopefully you caught the table space we shared with CanDo on Wednesday as a last-minute solution while we were busy preparing for this issue and for Pride Week itself.

Having been involved in UniQ together for our third year now, my co-president Alex and I are no strangers to the process behind collaborating with Salient to bring this issue to you. This year’s now-well-oiled machine includes (but is by no means limited to):

  • An interview with Gloria Fraser, a researcher at Victoria we worked with this year.
  • A fascinating look at the social implications of artificial wombs.
  • A photo essay on diversity in gender identity.
  • UniQ’s origin story, penned by Alex and featuring Wellington Central Labour MP Grant Robertson.
  • A crash course on nonbinary identity.
  • A look at gender, coloniality, and language shifts in fa’asamoa.
  • A review of New Zealand’s Human Rights Act as it relates to the queer community.
  • An assortment of reviews on all manner of media with a slightly gayer twist on things.
  • And a whole lot more brought to you by the lovely team at Salient :).

Also, don’t forget to check out the poster in the middle of this issue. Feel free to tear it out! It has information on all the events running this week that we’ve been working tirelessly to bring to you.

It has taken a lot of work to get to the point where these regular events are a possibility. All of it is done by dedicated volunteers who care deeply about ensuring that there is an organised queer presence at Victoria at all, and I’m not just referring to myself and Alex, either; year after year, our entire executive has put in more hours than our schedules should reasonably allow so that UniQ can not only exist, but thrive. Pride Week is a testament to our own passion for and commitment to the queer community at Victoria, which far outshines contributions by the university (which have historically been more the exception than the rule) and VUWSA (which have been slightly less so) out of sheer necessity.

As Alex details more thoroughly in our UniQ retrospective feature, making progress even after our three years of involvement has been slow. Taken in the context of everything else that has happened at the university during this time the closing and sale of the Karori campus, cuts to the language department, attacks on the arts more generally, increased demand for mental health care that is not being met, the continued withholding of a living wage from cleaning staff and other university workers despite constantly rising fees, etc — it is hardly surprising but no more acceptable that we haven’t seen any of the financial gains from these cuts meaningfully reinvested in the people and organisations who make up the Victoria community. Instead, the responsibility for ensuring that services and wellbeing exist at all for queer students in particular continues to fall entirely on the shoulders of student volunteers so that somebody somewhere can cut a profit. Hardly surprising, but no more acceptable.

It is with a heavy heart, then, that this issue of Queerlient is in a way our personal swansong to the Victoria community; after three years of being involved with UniQ Victoria and fighting the good fight to better queer outcomes at the university, Alex and I are departing for good at the end of the year. Queerlient 2017 is our last chance to really have a platform to talk in full about what has been done and still needs doing. It has been a wild ride getting UniQ to where it is now, and we hope the vitality we have achieved remains long after we leave. UniQ has been, is, and must always be a crucial part of the student community at Victoria — so give us that damn permanent space!


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