Algonquin’s Queer Straight Alliance group has been asking for a safe space on campus for LGBQT+ youth for over nine years.
And it looks like they’re finally being heard.
Students’ Association president Sara Grainger and college president Cheryl Jensen announced on March 22, that the Pride Centre will be open in the fall.
At the president’s breakfast last fall, Grainger, received clapping and cheering from the crowd when she expressed her support and determination to set a plan in motion for a Pride Centre on campus during her presidency.
“When I started as president I made it my personal goal to get the centre open as soon as possible,” said Grainger.
As Grainger’s term comes to an end this spring, she said that the support she received at the breakfast that day was one of her proudest moments in her position as Students’ Association leader.
“That was actually the highlight of my time as president, knowing that I was working on something that people really wanted and needed,” said Grainger.
Grainger explained that with any new initiative at the college, there is a specific procedure that needs to be followed and that she knew that the centre wouldn’t be open right away.
“I wanted to at least make sure we had the college support and students and QSA knew we had heard them,” said Grainger.
Last year, members of the QSA circulated a petition around campus that gained over 300 signatures. Members of the group agree that collecting signatures helped push the SA board of directors to get on board with the idea.
“Without a doubt, students mobilizing to promote our interests is the only reason pride centre is most likely to open in September,” said Dimka Melnik, member of the QSA.
Grainger assures that members of QSA have been actively involved and consulted throughout the whole process of the centre’s realization.
As a result of requests from students, the space is set to include a private space for counselling, an open area for events and a library with resources that students could borrow.
Unfortunately, Algonquin is one of the only post-secondary institutions in town without a centre on campus for students to go to right now.
“I’ve attended educational workshops, social events, borrowed books from their library and used the space for studying,” said Melnik. “These are the services we want AC Pride Centre to provide as well.”
The QSA hopes that Algonquin’s Pride Centre will provide much of the same. In addition, the QSA would like to see a coordinator and students hired as staff to help run the centre and refer students who come there to other services and resources they might need.
Algonquin celebrated Pride Week from March 21-24. The weeklong event organized by the QSA featured events such as panel discussions, a game night social, a trade show and a Burlesque Show at the Observatory.
“It’s time to show that Algonquin supports LGBTQ rights, and opens a centre that educates everybody,” said Grainger. “I am happy to see QSA working hard to put on a number of pride week events, and I was proud to raise the rainbow flag on Monday with college president Cheryl Jensen, who fully supports the creations of the pride centre.”