Queer students, Queen’s students

Queerientation helps create safer spaces for frosh, says previous EQuIP chair

Queries about Queerientation? Drop by the Grey House or speak to previous or current members such as Caitlyn Clark
Queries about Queerientation? Drop by the Grey House or speak to previous or current members such as Caitlyn Clark

Looking for other exciting Orientation events? Queerientation, organized by the Education on Queer Issues Project (EQuIP), is open to anyone queer and queer positive. Queerientation is going into its twelfth year at Queen’s. It was first organized by EQuIP’s predecessor, the Kingston Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Organization. This year’s Queerientation will run through September and will start off with a welcoming barbeque at the Grad Club and will close with a concert at the same venue.

Althea Green, ArtSci ’11, and this year’s chair of EQuIP, said she is hoping to see a large turn-out of first years as well as returning members of EQuIP.

“I’m really excited for this upcoming year,” she said. “The previous year provided an excellent foundation to strengthen the queer and queer allied community at Queen’s.”

According to Kavita Bissoondial, the Social Issues Commissioner, last year’s co-chairs tripled attendance and she hopes to maintain that for this upcoming year.

“We want to provide students with quality programming,” said Bissoondial. “We don’t want students to think support stops after Queerientation but that there will be groups who will be there throughout the year to make them feel welcomed.”

Jeff Waite, Orientation Roundtable Coordinator, is one of those responsible for ensuring that incoming frosh feel welcomed at Queen’s. He said orientation leaders are required to get special training.

“Sensitivity training is something that all leaders must participate in,” Waite said. “The Social Issues Commissioner will present issues of equality to smaller groups of students in a more discussion oriented setting.”

Waite hopes to change the name of leader training to something more diverse and accurate. He hopes leaders will engage in smaller group discussion about all relevant issues, including queer.

“A blurb about Queerientation was also sent out in the Common section of the Orientation Week Handbook,” said Waite.

“Alternative events run by the AMS will also be promoted to first years to ensure they are as aware as possible of all the resources they have available.”

The question is whether or not this blurb will be sufficient to get the word out there. Orientation leaders, and other important figures frosh look to for support, should be able to tell them what’s available.

In her first year, Caitlyn Clark, ArtSci ’10, previous EQuiP’s Queen’s Pride coordinator, didn’t realize Queerientation existed until after it had finished.

“The beginning of first year was so busy,” she said. “Nothing was ever mentioned to me by my [Orientation leaders] or dons, that I had no reason to believe an alternative orientation existed for queer students.”

Clark said her first year was particularly difficult because many students on her floor weren’t very supportive of her sexuality.

Looking back, she said, she wishes she had gotten involved with the queer community sooner.

“It would have been a chance to meet new people as well as find out more about clubs like EQuIP,” she said. “My best advice would be to

get involved right from the start and to create your own safe space.”

Although EQuIP provides a safe space for queer and queer positive students, there’s still a lot of work to be done in terms of making Queen’s more queer friendly, said former EQuIP chair, Christina Clare, ArtSci ’10.

“Overall, Queen’s offers a relatively safe and positive environment,” she said. “There is still lots of covert discrimination that takes place but EQuIP is definitely making some really good progress at creating a safer space for queer and [transgendered] students.”

Clare said she had a very positive experience during her first two years at Queen’s. She has been part of Queerientation as both a participant and an organizer.

“Both times were an amazing experience,” she said. “Queerientation provides me with a space to express who I am and be proud about my sexual identity.”

Amanda Howell, ArtSci ’11, was a proud participant of Queerientation last year and is making plans to get involved again.

“I really want to help first years feel welcomed at school,” she said. “The very first upper-year contacts I made in my first year were all from EQuIP and they immediately made me feel part of a tight-knit community.”

Last year, EQuIP had a variety of events ranging from concerts, coffeehouses and a trip to Ottawa to rally for queer rights on Parliament Hill. Although many of this year’s events have yet to be finalized, you can expect a fun and action-packed year.


EQuIP’s head office is on the upper floor of the Grey House, located on 51 Bader Lane. For more information about the group and a finalized Queerientation event listing, keep checking their website at clubs.myms.org/equip/.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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