Rainbow Centre Posters defaced

Graphic by Lena Yang

Graphic by Lena Yang

An incident that invovled someone defacing posters the Rainbow Centre put up around Wilfrid Laurier University’s Waterloo campus was recently brought to the attention of Special Constable Services.

The posters, which were promoting the Rainbow Centre’s events for Trans Awareness Week, were vandalized with an equal sign with a slash through it.

The Rainbow Centre was unable to comment further due to this being an ongoing investigation.

As a result of the incident, however, the Rainbow Centre is talking about the type of culture that would allow this to occur.

“When we make outreach campaigns in the community and stuff, people feel that we are encroaching on their space and forcing ourselves on them, when in reality we just want to raise awareness and help to educate people,” said Ashley Lieu, administration for the Rainbow Centre

A big issue for those that are part of the Diversity and Equity Office is how the general public at Laurier views the Rainbow Centre.

“I feel like a lot of people consider us to be a club, but that’s not what we are,” said Joy Sherwood, library and resources coordinator for the Rainbow Centre. “We are a resource on campus and we are part of the diversity and equity office on campus. Although we are volunteer-run, we exist to create a safer space for the LGBTQ community.”

“A lot of people don’t realize that and see us as, ‘Oh, you’re the gay club,’” she continued.

Mils Arden, events coordinator at the Rainbow Centre, explained how the DEO as a whole is there to serve students and provide the support students may need.

“I think the key point here is that we’re a service,” Arden said. “And we take the service part probably the most seriously because we’re not a club … by service, it means education, it means support, it means a safer place. We have to promote that because we’re part of the university structure.”

An environment of inclusivity exists at Laurier, explained Karli Ferriolo, marketing and outreach coordinator for the Rainbow Centre. Ferriolo said that students may feel that the DEO is not accessible because it’s staffed by “professionals,” but the centres are student-run.

“We’re trying to make the student community more aware that we exist and we are open and we are welcome for all of those to come and join all of these different things,” Ferriolo said.

When asked what the next step is for helping to change the way the DEO – and specifically the Rainbow Centre – is perceived, no one knew how to answer.

It’s a big question, Lieu explained.

“I feel like the DEO as a whole needs to be recognized,” Arden said. “It’s not just the Rainbow Centre, it’s all of us.”

“It’s not so much forcing ourselves onto other people, but letting them know there’s more and a wide range of issues that maybe they aren’t aware of,” Lieu said.

However, there are strides the Rainbow Centre has made and they are in the process of “making cohesive the different services on campus.” The centre is in the process of its first run-through of a lecture series, which allows people of different identities that aren’t normally discussed to talk about their experiences and place in society as marginalized groups.

This week the centre held three lectures for Trans Awareness Week.. Thursday is also the International Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil, held in uptown Waterloo Square at 6 p.m.

The DEO is also  collaborating with the Aboriginal Student Centre, Laurier International and is hoping to collaborate with the Graduate Students’ Association.

Sherwood believes there are areas the DEO can be more involved in.

“Maybe getting the DEO into the syllabi,” she said. “We have Foot Patrol in there, having something about the DEO might be beneficial.”

But Lieu, Sherwood, Ferriolo and Arden recognized there’s a long way to go before the DEO is finally seen as the support service Laurier needs.

“But there’s very little that is more than what we’re doing now. And there are struggles with that,” Sherwood said.

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