This week, Arthur talked with Andrew Clark, the Queer Students Commissioner at the Trent Central Student Association (TCSA). Clark notes that Equity Commissioners are important because, as opposed to roles like the president’s and the two vice-presidents who address a ‘blanket’ of issues within the TCSA, Equity Commissioners have the liberty to focus on a specific portion of the student population and the issues and interests of that particular group.
Clark argues that his role as an Equity Commissioner is significant because it gives a voice and representation to the queer community at Trent University. Additionally, queer students who come to Trent University, whether they are openly queer or not, may find comfort and solidarity in knowing that they are represented within the Student Union.
In order to address the stereotypes surrounding the queer community, like the ‘butch lesbian’ or the ‘flamboyant gay’, Clark will be launching a campaign titled “We Are Queer and We Are Here.” The campaign will allow for students who identify with a specific sexuality to anonymously (if desired) express what being gay, lesbian, or bisexual means to them and looks like to them. The anonymity will create a safe space for students who are not open about their sexuality to express themselves and change mainstream perceptions.
Clark hopes to obtain canvases and set them up in student spaces, allowing for students to easily access them and write on them. Clark plans to set up separate canvases for the different sexualities and allow for students who do not identify with any of those listed to also express their own sexual identity. The definitions and interpretations that students provide will then be transformed into posters that will continue the campaign.
As the Queer Students Commissioner, Clark is partnering with both the Women’s Issues Commissioner and the Gender Issues Commissioner to host ‘Self Love Week’ again and hopes to gather the participation and support of the rest of the Equity Commissioners.
As part of his responsibilities, Clark also notes that he sits on two committees, one that is part of the TCSA and another that is external to the Student Union. He is a representative in the Religious and Spiritual Committee and the Cyclical Committee.
Clark encourages students to run for the positions of Equity Commissioners for several reasons. The first is that Equity Commissioners have a voice within the TCSA, allowing them to bring issues to light. If these positions are not filled, as the two part-time students positions are not, the board lacks their representation in the decision making process, and may not take into account the issues and interests of a particular student demographic.
Additionally, as an Equity Commissioner, Clark mentions that he has learned to take a leadership role and work through self-motivation. Reaching out to people is integral to the Queer Students Commissioner’s role, and Clark contends that he has learned this skill through his colleagues and work within the TCSA.
Clark notes that one of the reasons that the Equity Commissioners have lacked interest in the past is that there is a knowledge gap. Many students do not know what being an Equity Commissioner entails or on how to actually run for the position itself. Additionally, Clark hopes that the TCSA will be much more present and central within the Student Centre, as the current office setting allows for students to walk by and see the logo without knowing what it means. In other words, a heightened visibility of the TCSA will make the organization more noticeable and more approachable.