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Report from Queers in Tertiary Seminar

Tue 10 Feb 2015 In: Our Communities View at Wayback View at NDHA

This annual conference, an event linked to the Auckland Pride Festival, was hosted this year by AUT University and organised by the team at OUT@AUT. It’s been a busy few days for this small but effective group with one of the busiest stalls at the LYC Big Gay Out (AUT University is a platinum sponsor of this event), the QIT Hui and involvement in a further nine events over the next few weeks. The hui took place on Ngā Wai o Horotiu Marae and was attended by approximately 30 people from across the queer spectrum and included senior academics, general staff and, perhaps most importantly, students. The day began with a formal powhiri which took place in the wharenui and was lead by valance Smith and Whaea Maaki Howard. Associate Professor Mark Henrickson (Massey University) replied on behalf of the manuhiri. Hui keynote speakers: Lexie Matheson (L) Professor Welby Ings (Centre) and Aych McArdle. Picture thanks to Cushla Matheson. The first of four keynote addresses, Je Suis Diversity, was presented by Professor Edwina Pio, Professor of Diversity at the Business and Law School at AUT. Professor Pio’s paper worked through the fact that diversity is always politically charged and is a complex weave of historical and socio-economic legacies which impact on the micro and macro practices of organisational life. She addressed issues advancing the understanding that diversity discourse and diversity practice can support the human capacity to flourish in how we engage with each other in tertiary education and provided a terrific context for the day that was to follow. Recent AUT master’s graduate Aych McArdle facilitated a forty minute student forum that was both vivid and fun and traversed a wide range of opinions and experiences. After an excellent kai, McArdle again took the lead, this time with a paper entitled ‘Our gendered city: How can we use language to transform the experience of public space and educational environments for diversely gendered Aucklanders? Anchored by their recent research which resulted in first class honours for their thesis, McArdle peppered a presentation with personal experiences that informed and reflected on knowledge surrounding the ongoing marginalization of gender minorities through language and reflected on and evolving, living language which can be seen as a symbol of ‘progress’ in terms of challenging binary understandings of gender normativity. Next in the quartet of keynote presenters was Lexie Matheson, event management programme leader, PhD student and transgender activist whose presentation, entitled ‘Wildflowers: A Political Battlefield?’, addressed the concept of fairness in the tertiary learning environment and likened the notion to principles of equality, equity and the hypothetical legitimacy of ‘treating everyone the same.’ The day concluded with Professor Welby Ings brilliant exposition Why You Should Write With Pink Chalk. Ings describes the genesis of his work in this way: "I was once asked if being queer was actually an advantage in education. Needless to say the question did not come from someone who identified with a sexual minority. He told me, 'I think you queers have learned to use this stuff to give yourselves a form of productive, marginalised status'." This keynote address was, according to participants, quite simply brilliant. Ings, a superb performer, courageously opened the door on himself and his experiences in ways that were both moving and profound yet never lost a sense of deeply rooted, underlying anger. His was quite simply a stunning way to end a day of great variety, depth and affirmation. (Thanks to Lexie Matheson for the info and Cushla Matheson for the image!) contributers - 10th February 2015    

Credit: contributers

First published: Tuesday, 10th February 2015 - 12:30pm

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