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Visibility, diversity, collaboration: pride week at La Trobe University

La Trobe University is providing a supportive and accepting environment for its diverse array of students. This week focused on GLBTQI students.

In the wake of Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival, La Trobe University held its Pride Week events Tuesday to Thursday at the Melbourne campus. Each day held different events for students to participate in or simply watch, at The Agora, the centre hub of campus.

The event was planned and executed by Counselling Services, mainly the queer program team. They brought in local groups such as The Melbourne Rainbow Cloggers and Line Dancers to teach classes, as well as Joy 94.9, a queer friendly radio station.  Counselling Services also invited groups from within La Trobe to come and set up booths to promote themselves and show that they were also queer friendly. They hosted their own activities as well, to get the student community involved. Zumba dance classes, the Wheel of Fortune Safe Sex quiz, The Great Debate, daily barbeques and hula hooping provided the students, no matter what their sexual orientation, a bit of fun to break up their school day.

Devorah Wynn of Counselling services commented that, ‘the message of visibility, diversity and collaboration has really been supported by the community,’ giving a special shout out to La Trobe International, the office for international students.

She was indeed right that the community had been very supportive of the events. Rowan Payne of La Trobe’s ALP Labour Club agreed, ‘for a gay student, there isn’t a better university to go to than La Trobe,’ mentioning that the campus was known for it’s diversity of students.

Clare Keyes-Liley, Student Union President at La Trobe, echoed Payne’s sentiments and stressed the importance of, ‘providing a welcoming environment for all students’ and that ‘recognizing queer events is a good way to do that.’

The bright rainbows (a symbol of gay pride) all over campus the past few days have drawn a lot of attention to the event. Thursday’s clogging demonstration drew a large cheering crowd for the Melbourne based group. Students watching around the Agora said that, ‘it’s a good initiative, once you figure out what it is,’ and were admittedly a bit confused to see a group of people clog dancing in the centre of university. Intrigued, they stayed around to watch the show and were impressed when they discovered the events were promoting Pride Week. One woman said that, ‘it’s fun, even if it’s not something that everyone is into, you can still like it.’

Her comment summed up the attempt of Counselling Services exactly. Acceptance of others different from you is an important aspect of being part of the La Trobe community. Diversity was something to be accepted, and even better, enjoyed.

While the event was to educate students on diversity and provide information for queer students to get involved in gay friendly events, the overall message to all students was to be comfortable attending La Trobe. The events encouraged students to try something new, like clog dancing with a 60-year-old woman, without judgment. A mantra that people should live by everyday!

Julia McDonald is completing her Masters of Global Communications at La Trobe University. Follow her on Twitter @Jules_mcdonald.


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