As move-in nears, equity groups prepare for new campus space

Levana Gender Advocacy Centre, Queen's University Muslim Student Association among clubs to move in

Four groups will move into the Yellow House.
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Four equity-seeking groups will move into the Yellow House for the upcoming school year, three years after Queen’s students hosted the racist party that led to the recommendation for an inclusive space on campus. 
 
The four groups the University Council on Anti-racism and Equity (UCARE) sub-committee selected to move into the Yellow House, located at 140 Stuart St., are the African and Caribbean Students’ Association, the Levana Gender Advocacy Centre, the Queen’s Black Academic Society, and the Queen’s University Muslim Student Association. 
 
The groups have been offered a three-year residency in the space, with the option to renew their agreements should they continue to meet relevant criteria, like having AMS- or SGPS-ratified status.
 
“Because promoting inclusion on campus is a high priority for the University, we want to enable these groups to be able to serve the student population as best they can,” Teri Shearer, deputy provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion), said in an interview with The Journal. 
 
She added the Yellow House will also serve as an informal space for minority students to spend free time and provide bookable space for other groups that promote equity or intercultural awareness and support for under-represented populations on campus.
 
Shearer said the University intends to recruit a director for the space and schedule on-site hours with campus resources like the inter-cultural counsellor.
 
While the groups were selected for the Yellow House in March, delayed construction is stalling the move-in process.
 
“Summer is the busiest time for maintenance and construction projects on Queen’s campus,” the University wrote in a statement to The Journal. “It took longer than expected to get the Yellow House ready for move in.”
 
The Levana Gender Advocacy Centre hopes to move in before fall Orientation. 
 
“There are some large projects we have to undertake moving in,” board member Dylyn Reid-Davies, ArtSci ’21, said in an interview with The Journal.
 
Since its eviction from the Grey House in 2017, Levana has been operating out of a basement—unreachable by elevator—in MacGillivray-Brown Hall, a building on the edge of campus.
 
“A lot of our stuff we have to move in has been unsorted, or it’s really old and outdated,” Davies said. “It’s been damaged by the flooding that happened to our storage space last year. We have to figure out what’s salvageable.”
 
Davies said the move to the Yellow House will improve student accessibility.
 
“The yellow cottage is really an affirmation that we’re actually going to be able to exist in the community, that we want existence,” he said.
 
Fellow Levana member Danny McLaren, Arts ’21, said the group plans to use the undamaged items to reopen a lending library the Centre previously provided in the Grey House.
 
“They’ve been in boxes for the past two years,” they said.  
 
Reopening the library is one move Levana plans to make in its return to a more prominent place on campus, according to McLaren. 
 
The Queen’s University Muslim Association also plans to move its reading materials out of storage boxes and onto bookshelves. 
 
“We have tons of resources to give out,” former Association Chair Zaryab Ahmed, Sci ’20, told The Journal in an interview.  “Whether it may be a person who’s looking to learn more or has a bunch of questions about Islam, that’s part of what we do. We do a lot of outreach to clarify a lot of misconceptions.”
 
The Association currently uses its space in the JDUC to offer prayer services to students and community members.
 

While the Association will maintain its space in the JDUC to offer these services, its new allocation in the Yellow House will give executive members a place to operate.

“Our space in the JDUC, it’s very hidden,” Ahmed said. “Just having that physical presence [in the Yellow House] and being able to tell people, you can come here anytime during operating hours, here’s our physical location, here’s where you can find resources, I think it’s going to be a key part of moving forward.”

Not all groups who applied for a space in the Yellow House were able to secure a spot, however.  
 
The Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) of Kingston also lost its space in the Grey House in 2017.  
 
Since then, the group has been operating out of the cafeteria in Mackintosh Corry-Hall, and because OPIRG isn’t an AMS or SGPS-ratified club, OPIRG’s application to the Yellow House was denied.  
 
Ayca Tomac, OPIRG Kingston representative, said the group has asked the University to reconsider its application to the Yellow House while they seek re-ratification with the AMS.  
 
“After the announcement of the Yellow House allocation decisions, I went to a UCARE meeting and gave a statement,” Tomac said in an interview with The Journal. “It was quite emotional for us because we’ve worked so hard to get the space.”  
 
In a letter dated April 4, Tomac asked the UCARE committee to consider establishing OPIRG as a UCARE-ratified student group.
 
“We are really proud of the work that we do and the contributions to Queens and Kingston,” she said. “One of the main challenges of OPIRG Kingston right now is we do not have an office space on campus.”
 

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