Queen’s action group aims to improve climate for gender & sexual diversity

PAGGAS to act as a conduit for LGBTQ+ groups on campus

Matt D’Alessandro hopes to improve queer advocacy on campus through PAGGAS.

After committing to improving Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigeneity (EDII) standards within the university sphere, Queen’s has launched a working group to improve the climate for gender and sexual diversity.

The Provost’s Action Group for Gender and Sexual Diversity (PAGGAS) was formed in late 2020.

Co-chaired by Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion) Teri Shearer and Jean Pleiderer, the associate director of the Human Rights Advisory Services, PAGGAS is a small group consisting of faculty, staff, and students at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

The group acts as a conduit to connect groups at Queen’s involved in improving the climate for gender and sexual diversity on campus.

“Our purpose is twofold,” Pleiderer told The Journal in an interview.

“If there is a way we can be a conduit so people can know about each other and what they’re doing and we don’t have two or three different groups trying to do the same thing when they could be working together, and perhaps accomplish their efforts a little more efficiently and effectively, then we’re happy to play that role.”

“Or, if people can let us know that they are trying to accomplish something and they have a specific need for support then we can try to get that for them.”

PAGGAS is currently pursuing consultations with a number of groups on campus. Matt D’Alessandro, ArtSci ’22, who’s currently seated on the committee, is involved in reaching out to various queer groups on campus to hear what kinds of differences PAGGAS can be making.

“Right now, we’re doing a bunch of visits to different areas of the university, so the staff and faculty on PAGGAS are focusing on the different departments that exist within Queen’s,” D’Alessandro said.

“I’m focusing on the students’ side, so I recently had consultations with the SHRC [Sexual Health Resource Centre], the AMS Social Issues Commission, and on my list is also the various clubs underneath the AMS Social Issues Commission, as well as some of the other faculty societies’ equity representatives and executives there. Once we get into the school year, I’m also hoping to reach out to clubs and establish a connection with them.”

D’Alessandro joined PAGGAS in May 2021, following the end of his term as the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Society (ASUS) vice-president.

He’s currently involved in forming a queer orientation week in the upcoming semester.  

This is one of several projects being undertaken, including PAGGAS’s effort to restructure IT services to better support trans students undergoing name changes, and a project to add gender-neutral bathrooms and change rooms on campus.

D’Alessandro further credits his time as a student leader to better fostering a passion for queer advocacy. He hopes his experiences from previous positions will allow him to bring issues forward to the University.

When asked how he hopes the administration will act to proactively create a better campus culture for queer students, D’Alessandro said his biggest hope is to have PAGGAS remain an accessible resource for students, staff, and faculty.

“We hear the same tune every single time. Something happens, the University says it’s going to form a task force or working group, and then the group forms, we hear all about it, and then we hear nothing about it ever again,” he said.

“One thing I’m hoping PAGGAS does, with the connections and the faculty that we do have on it, is to have a public facing lens to the Queen’s community and really keep people updated on what we’re doing and the cool projects that we’re working on.”

D’Alessandro said he’s confident in the panel’s ability to listen to student voices.

 “It’s my priority to be listening to as many students as I can and holding myself to that same active listening standpoint that I hope the administration uses.”


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.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.