Two hundred signatures adorn their banner in a variety of colours. During the last week of classes, students filing through campus would stop by to add their names. This banner belongs to the Laurier Brantford Rainbow Alliance, a new club on campus that seeks to broaden the diversity on campus as well as making the issues of the lesbian, gay, transgender, and queer/questioning (LBGTQ) community well known across Laurier Brantford.
When she came out last year, Andrea Shine, a fourth-year Concurrent Education major, noticed there was a lack of services around campus for people in the LBGTQ community. There were some counseling services, but she felt that it was time for Laurier Brantford to expand to include a group for LBGTQ students and allies of the community. With the help of faculty members, Shine eventually created the Rainbow Alliance, where she acts as club president.
For its first year, one of the club’s biggest goals is to achieve recognition around campus, Shine explains. Running various workshops and events throughout the upcoming semester is their biggest means of gaining visibility.
The banner signing was one of three events run in the past semester by the Rainbow Alliance. The other events constituted showings of the movies Saved and Elf. With a turnout of about 30 people for Saved, the Rainbow Alliance’s first event was deemed a success by Shine, and she even remarked that the number of attendees “was a lot more than expected.”
Shine describes “having a place that people can come and talk to like-minded people or allied people who accept them and know that the campus is a safe space,” as one of the long-term goals for the Rainbow Alliance. Citing that there is a stigma behind counseling, Shine hopes that having this space will make students feel more comfortable speaking with like-minded individuals.
Dr. Rebecca Godderis, a Laurier Brantford professor, felt that, prior to the creation of the Rainbow Alliance, the LBGTQ community on campus was invisible, which she felt was a significant issue.
She states that overlooking this community means that “students don’t have a place to go to be able to connect with their peers that may be facing similar questions or concerns or transitions.”
As a faculty member, Dr. Godderis has the ability to help the Rainbow Alliance reach their goals by working more closely with the faculty to get that designated space for the Rainbow Alliance and other diversity groups on campus.
Dr. Godderis is also able to organize some larger activities that reach out to faculty and staff as well as the community as a whole. She and the Rainbow Alliance are currently working on an event for this coming February that involves people from all levels of the institution.
Godderis hopes that eventually the Rainbow Alliance can start to create a resource library that offers a set of books available for students to have access to.