PrideWestern needs an aim

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

March 11, 2008 Ed Cartoon

PrideWestern appears to be a broken organization. Down seven executives, the service has lost direction. Questions arise from Pride’s situation about the role of services at Western.

Three years ago Pride made the transition from a club to a service. In addition to receiving funding, services are expected to be more reliable and meet needs on campus, unlike clubs that cater to students’ wants.

Whereas clubs can focus on social events, services need to provide something more for students. Visibility, accessibility and consistency need to be the top priorities.

Without an executive, Pride cannot accomplish these goals.

In-fighting and mass resignations are symptoms of a lack of direction. In order to benefit students, services require a clear mandate. It needs to set out its objectives.

It is unclear to outside observers exactly what Pride’s mandate is, and likely Pride doesn’t know either.

Potentially, Pride requires a full-time employee to provide consistency and keep in mind a larger overarching policy direction.

Other universities have programs aided by funding from university administration. This kind of funding could help Pride link students with a broader set of resources and make it easier to achieve its goals.

Administration’s assistance would also add valuable resources. Student leaders are fantastic, but the experience of seasoned administrators could help in setting out a clear mandate and making sure it is reached.

Any assistance from administration would likely be closely monitored to ensure a successful program.

There are drawbacks, however. Funding associates the university’s name with anything a service is doing. In light of this, advocacy for LGBTTQ2 community issues is unlikely to be part of the mandate.

This is where PrideWestern or a similar group comes in. Working in partnership with a separate Western-funded program, at times and independently when admin gets anxious, would enable it to better meet the community’s needs.

However programs end up structured, the university should have a hand in providing an effective service for the queer community. On a large campus, administration should be investing to help integrate and accommodate a significant portion of Western students.

It is great that the University Students’ Council is attempting to provide a service for the LGBTTQ2 community. Western should at least attempt to match this effort in light of its mission to promote the best possible student experience.

Whether or not administration decides to weigh in, Pride needs to be rebuilt with a concrete objective. If Pride’s goal is to create a sense of community, it will need specific strategies to achieve that. Holding events is not enough and neither is linking students to resources; a complete package is required.

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