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Queer students converge on Christchurch

Fri 2 Jul 2010 In: Events View at Wayback View at NDHA

Queer students from across the country have converged on Christchurch for the annual UniQ Conference, where they will discuss everything from equal representation to BDSM. More than 50 students from Auckland, AUT, Waikato, Victoria, Canterbury, and Otago are taking part in the gathering, which is taking place at the University of Canterbury campus this weekend. Conference coordinator Dan Hawke says the main theme is ‘bringing UniQs together'. "Queer representation has always been an issue – already far smaller minorities are represented within student administration and student unions, such as Maori, Pacific Islanders, disabled, or international students all get their own representation, but queer students with their own support needs are mostly ignored by universities," he says. Safe sex will be another key topic of discussion, with sponsor Get It On! taking some time to talk about condom usage and sexual health. "We've chosen a wide variety of speakers including some that people might consider quite ‘out there' topics like BDSM," says Hawke. "So no matter your sexuality and tastes, everybody should feel accepted." Other topics of discussion include what a relationship is from a WINZ perspective, polyamoury and Christianity and sexuality. Hawke says they wanted to cover a different set of topics to last year. "We're hoping that through a student's undergraduate life they will get to go to at least a couple of UniQ conferences, so we've tried to bring in some different topics this year. With the response we've had with the lineup, I think we're on the right track," he says. From the 2009 UniQ ball "The speakers are informative and it definitely opened my eyes to some new viewpoints the first time I attended a UniQ conference." Hawke says anyone who hasn't been to a UniQ Conference before will not be disappointed if they come along expecting a fun, friendly time. "There's always help on hand if anybody feels uncomfortable or confused, as we'll have plenty of volunteers in distinctive Get It On! t-shirts". Icebreaker games and are being run to help people get to know each other outside their university groups, while a ball will be held at the Base nightclub on Saturday night. Overall, Hawke wants people to go away from the conference having made a few new friends. "And to feel accepted, and have hopefully learned something from some of the speakers too. Most of all I want to make sure everybody has a good time." Click here to go to the UniQ Conference website Jacqui Stanford - 2nd July 2010    

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Friday, 2nd July 2010 - 8:52am

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