The 2023 Queer Officers are accelerating the campaign for a Queer Space at Kensington campus.
Our aim for this initiative is to modernise the queer space, enabling us to host events and meetings in a manner that is in line with our goals of accessibility and equity for all Queer Collective members. LGBTQIA students at UNSW see the queer space as a physical representation of the university’s attitude towards the community, and we believe that the current space does not portray the positive view of the current executive towards our community.
We reference the Chemical Sciences Society room (F10 Mezzanine) and the Arc Student Lounge at the Paddington campus as a vision for what we believe the space should look like.
Since at least 2003, the UNSW Queer Collective has maintained the "Queer Space" in the F10 June Griffith (formerly Chemical Sciences) building as a centralised location for queer students at UNSW to safely interact without fear of homophobic or transphobic attacks. However, after over 20 years of continuous usage, the space is demonstrating its age.
A lack of accessibility is foremost among the issues with the current Space. Being located on Level 9, the primary access method is a set of lifts shared with the rest of the building (with the alternative being 9 flights of fire stairs). As such, a student with mobility aids (such as a wheelchair) is currently unable to safely exit the space on their own in the event of an emergency.
Additionally, the lack of running water and male/gender-neutral bathrooms on the floor has led to a consistent requirement for members of the Collective to use facilities designated for staff and post-graduate researchers. While our upstairs neighbours have been happy to share these facilities, the fact that there isn't an available bathroom for male, non-binary, or other gender-non-conforming members on the same floor represents a significant obstacle to many students' use of the Space.
Our primary goals for the space are security and accessibility.
The current Queer Space uses a combination numeric keypad and card access system, in order to limit access to Queer Collective members only. Its obscure location also serves as a form of "security through obscurity", the idea that the space remains secure due to its relatively hidden location.
We believe that while maintaining the security of the space is sufficient, the accessibility limitations that arise from the location of the space outweigh the benefits, as the current space is inaccessible to users of wheelchairs (for example, the requirement of 850mm of thoroughfare width is not met by the secondary door) and other students with mobility issues.
Our aim is for a space that still has a card access restriction, but is in a more accessible location (ideally on the same level as an entranceway to the building).
The order of priority is as follows:
- Access control via swipe card restriction
- Ease of access for students with mobility limitations
- Near to a gender-neutral bathroom (or one that is shortlisted to be converted to gender-neutral)
- Equal to or larger than the current queer space in usable floor space
- Easier to locate than the current Queer Space (ideally ground/first floor, near Middle campus)
- Access to drinkable tap water within the room (ideally via a Zip tap or similar)
Arc has committed to fitting the space with new or refurbished furniture as part of this campaign.
[24/07/2023]: We are conducting a survey on the usage of the Queer Space in order to demonstrate how often the Space is used by students. If you are able to fill this out, please submit the form at https://tally.so/r/mVjRoy.
This data will be published as Limited Release data at the conclusion of the survey.