Unofficial collectives patch representation gap

Devan C. Tasa, News Editor Ω

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) and graduate students don’t have an advocacy group within TRUSU’s structure like women, First Nations and international students do – officially.

From an examination of the websites of B.C.’s universities, TRU is the only university that doesn’t have any sort of official representation or support organization for LGBTQ students hosted by either the students union or the university.

Unofficially, the students union is running a Pride Collective and Graduate Students’ Collective on an temporary basis until official approval can be gained from students at the next annual general meeting (AGM) in January.

“I think that these are two important groups on campus that need advocacy and representation through the student union,” said TRUSU president Dustin McIntyre. “That’s why we believe it’s important that the members come out to our AGM and ratify these two collectives.”

In order for any policy changes to be passed at an AGM, there must be 50 members of the students union present. Last year’s AGM came up well short of that number, as only 39 students signed in

Changes to establish a Pride Collective would also create a pride representative on the students union’s council, to be elected by students. Graduate students already have a representative, Katie Hutfluss.

Establishing a new Pride Collective was one of the major platform items put forward by the victorious Your Vote = Your Voice political party during the last TRUSU elections.

“When we ran for this election, we ran saying that we’d create an LGBT, or Pride, Collective,” McIntyre said. “Since we’ve been in office we been working on that.”

Unlike the Women’s, First Nations and International Students’ Collectives, the two unofficial collectives don’t have an official budget. Instead, they are drawing money from the entertainment budget on an as-needed basis, McIntyre said.

“At this point, I do not believe there is a set number saying you get ‘X’ amount of dollars to spend; however we believe any event that the Pride Collective wants to host this year is important, so we’d be able to find that money to host that event,” he said.

This year, TRUSU has budgeted $110,700 to its entertainment budget. $110,000 has been earmarked for event purposes such as the Kickstart Barbecue and the Common Voices lecture series, leaving $700 for the two unofficial collectives to draw from. The three official collectives receive $28,000 all together.

There are no plans to introduce any other new collectives at the next AGM.

“At that point, we’d have five collectives,” McIntyre said. “That’s a pretty full house.”

McIntyre was unable to say if TRUSU’s council has been examining other policy changes for students to vote on at the next AGM.

There is still a TRUSU Pride Club on campus. A new Pride Collective wouldn’t affect their status, McIntyre said.

“If people on campus still wanted to have a Pride Club, they’re absolutely more than welcome to have that club,” he said.