Article Title:Welcome to University… Welcome to UniQ!
Category:People
Author or Credit:Matt Akersten
Published on:2nd March 2007 - 12:00 pm
Published by:GayNZ.com
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Story ID:1616
Text:UniQ Otago students You've struggled through adolescence and coped with high school – and now it's off for further education. For many kiwis, going to university means travel, new independence, first flatting experiences, and a busy social life. It's also chance be ‘out and proud', often for the first time in your life. 'UniQ' is the Queer* Students Association at New Zealand Universities. 'Queer' is always shown with an asterisk and disclaimer pointing out the word's ‘reclaimed' status. It's not offensive in this context, they say, it's an umbrella term for gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual people. As well as organising services and social groups in all NZ universities and several polytechnics, an annual conference is held where guest speakers, workshops and social events cement relationships between UniQ groups. David Do and Samantha Lowe are the two co-presidents of UniQ's Auckland University branch. The student's association on campus has a “very queer-friendly policy, and has had more than its fair share of queer executive members in the present and past,” explains Do. The Health and Counseling centre on campus also does its best to cater well with issues with sexual orientation. Unlike over the road at Auckland's University of Technology, Auckland Uni's not lucky enough to have a staff member [Michael Richardson] tasked with giving background support to UniQ – “while it's not a guarantee of group success, it can help at times,” explains Do. Attempts in the past to establish a designated ‘queerspace' on campus failed, following the results of student referenda. “UniQ Auckland has had good years and not-so-good periods. But we're still here. I'd also like to think we're in a pretty healthy state at the moment”. For more information and to get involved with UniQ Auckland, contact them on email: uniq.auckland@gmail.com. Auckland's University of Technology aims to be a safe and supportive place to celebrate all students and staff - and this includes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Their UniQ maintains not only a student network, but also a staff one. They organise monthly meetings with visitors and have regular social events. Regular events are movie nights, get-togethers, regular OUTings for meals, and a monthly information stall at Market Days. There's lots going on – so email studentsout@aut.ac.nz to be added to their list for regular newsletters. ‘Askew' is based in Waikato Uni – and their ‘QueerSpace' is one place on campus that will always be homophobia-free. It's open all day weekdays all year, for anyone to come in to meet with others, get information, or just relax. Askew meets once a week during term on Wednesdays at 1pm to discuss upcoming events and issues in the Queerspace. Email for more details: askew.waikato@gmail.com. In Palmerston North, Bruno Little says that like most UniQ's around NZ, Massey's group has just held a stall at Orientation Week. Lots of events are planned for coming months, it's all on their informative website - check it out at www.malgraclubq.org.nz/uniq. In the capital, UniQ Victoria is involved in the running of events for Victoria students, and the wider community. It has also established itself as a major community advocate and support group. They'll have a stall at Wellington's Gay and Lesbian Fair on Saturday 10th March – join them there, or email uniq@vuwsa.org.nz. For those at Canterbury Uni, Beth and Adam organise regular events, such as movie nights, lunches, dinners, and social drinks. Their UniQ also contributes towards the community by actively supporting the creation of initiatives such as Queer Alliance, a network setup to encourage queer-friendly student clubs at Canterbury Uni. UniQ events kicked off again during Orientation Week - to find out more about their plans for this year, email uniq_canterbury@hotmail.com. Lincoln University, just out of Christchurch, also has a UniQ social and support network, contactable on uniq_lincoln@yahoo.co.nz. Otago Uni features a peer support network, reference library, social groups, and special events including an upcoming ‘Cluedo Murder Mystery Night' with special guest Georgina Beyer! Otago's UniQ is provided by the Otago Student Association – learn more at their website at www.uniq.ousa.org.nz.     Matt Akersten - 2nd March 2007
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