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The LGBTQ+ Association Committee offer the following response to Andrew Goddard’s Comment article: “LGBTQ+: A broken organisation?“
In the Week 4 issue of SCAN, a Comment article discussed the current state of the LGBTQ+ Association on campus, entitled “LGBTQ+: Is it a Broken Organisation?” Yet if you’ve attended any of our socials, campaigns or meetings this term – it’s been nothing but busy! Of course as with any society we strive to do better and let our members guide us in what they want from it; we invite participation from anyone who wishes to help run socials and campaigns. If you just want to give feedback we’re always checking our various channels which include email, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. There are also designated office hours run by our officers if you want a chat in person, including our Cross-Campus Officer.
Hopefully, many people are aware of the campaign we ran in Week 3 of term, Asexual Spectrum Awareness Week. We were proud to be the joint-first university in the country to run an Asexual Awareness campaign last year, and we’re very happy to have built on our experiences this year. As well as this, we have several campaigns planned for the rest of this term. In Week 5, you will have seen our efforts bear fruit as we ran our first Bi and Pan Awareness Week campaign to raise awareness of bisexuality and pansexuality. Later on in the term, we have a Trans* Awareness Campaign, and potentially more if our members want to see them.
Given these activities, it’s quite true that the association hasn’t shied away from politics –but this is just one side of the coin, which we aim to balance. A long-running staple of our socials scene is our coffee evening, a simple yet consistently popular evening that provides a chilled-out space for any and all LGBTQ+ people on campus to come have a nice warm drink after a long Monday. Despite being a low-maintenance social it has attracted upwards of twenty people, and often more.
Perhaps the simplicity of this particular social has drawn criticism that we haven’t been fun enough – we should definitely also be measured by the unique socials we’re putting on. In Week 1, we ran a Rainbow Bar Crawl for people to come and try their luck at finding a drink of every colour on campus, with prizes for the winners! For those who prefer non-drinking socials, we ran a Pudding Plod (like a bar crawl, but with desserts instead of drinks) in Lancaster – and we had to change our route mid-event because too many people turned up to fit in one café! In Week 2, we held a film night to watch the 2014 film ‘Pride’ and in Week 3 we had our own LGBTQ+ Bar Chill in Grizedale Bar, an event entirely organised by our hard-working new members.
And that’s not all – we offer a socials scene for Postgraduate students and staff who may want something more aimed towards their interests. Our Postgraduate Officer holds a meet-up in Fylde Bar every Thursday evening; this is a chance to have a drink and a chat in a scene aimed towards mature students and non-undergraduates, so that they can discuss LGBTQ+ issues relevant to them. Of course, given the wide variety of students and staff here at Lancaster, we always think there’s more that we can do. We definitely encourage any LGBTQ+ postgraduatess or staff members to let us know how we can improve the association for them!
In fact, we think the LGBTQ+ scene on campus is getting more varied, vibrant and strong with each week. While it’s true that last summer had a lull, as many of our members were too busy with exams, the opposite is true now! This term has seen the creation of Trans* Forum, a group for trans* students to discuss their own experiences and create trans-specific campaigns and socials, and Liminal, a group for LGBTQ+ students of faith to share their experiences with other students who can best understand them. With more events and places for LGBTQ+ students to enjoy, it’s safe to say our socials scene is on the up, though it could always be improved.
We’re now halfway through the term, and building up for not just fantastic campaigns, but fantastic socials. In Week 6 you’ll be seeing the hotly-anticipated Canal Street trip. While there were issues with the amount of interest and we only ran one Canal Street trip last year, this term’s trip has had record levels of interest. Come the end of term, we’ll be breaking out the Christmas decorations to take over the Sugarhouse, in Queermas. We’re sorry for anyone who feels their music choices went unrepresented at the last Gaystrav, as our student DJs had their own sets and could only take so many requests! But come December, we’ll make sure that not only is Sugar welcoming and LGBTQ+ friendly, but a vibrant and fantastic place for anyone who wants to come enjoy the takeover.
If anyone else feels like the LGBTQ+ Association can do more for the students it represents – then get stuck in! Our weekly meetings are open to all, as are our Facebook groups for discussions. We want a fair, representative, successful LGBTQ+ community on campus, but it has to be led by those who care about it. Our committee has been filled with new members who are just as motivated to help make these socials the best they can be. We’ll be listening to the feedback and comments from students on how well we succeed – but while the aforementioned SCAN article suggests we need to spend less time on politics and more on socials, we think we’ve made plenty of time for both.