Poor housekeeping

The safe space in the Grey House, a place that caters to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Questioning (LGBTQ) students, is at risk.

The impending evictions of the Levana Gender Advocacy Centre, Kingston Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) and the Education on Queer Issues Project (EQuIP) are concerning. With no alternative options available for their operations, the groups should be allowed to stay.

Last year’s AMS executive enacted a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the end of their term in April 2011, identifying the Grey House groups’ unique place on campus. Sticking to official policy, the current members of the AMS’s Space Allocation Committee have directly contradicted this.

The situation speaks to an inherent problem of the single-year turnover of many AMS positions and the need to build upon the work of years prior. Policy needs to be applied with a soft hand, especially when guarantees have been made by former AMS executive members.

The Space Allocation Committee has suggested that EQuIP, which is an AMS committee and therefore ineligible for Grey House space, be moved. One possibility is the Social Issues Commission office but this fails to provide the atmosphere that the Grey House is known for.

Because the three Grey House groups often work so closely together, it stands to reason that they should maintain their proximity to one another.

It’s not solely the AMS’s fault.

Levana and OPIRG were informed of the need to re-ratify as AMS clubs in order to maintain their space but the groups have yet to comply. The AMS even pushed back the deadline for re-ratification.

These groups don’t necessarily want to associate themselves with the AMS, but if they want to keep their spaces in the Grey House, this will have to change. When a simple re-ratification will solve the issue, the wise choice would be to keep the space for now and work to change the policy in the future.

After decades in the Grey House, there seems to be a sense of entitlement to the space, despite the fact that the AMS, the Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) and the University jointly own it.

That said, the lack of AMS consultation with the SGPS on the impending evictions is problematic. The space is not for the AMS to run alone.

The Grey House is an invaluable resource for those who feel marginalized on campus and in the community, so it needs to be preserved. Both sides need to negotiate and do what’s best for students. Whether it’s through re-ratification or policy change, we want to see Levana, OPIRG and EQuIP remain in the Grey House.

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