Queers still here

Student club Queers & Allies, once a prominent voice on campus, diminished significantly last year due to a lack of leadership. From September 2003 to June 2004, membership dropped from around 30 to less than a dozen.

Many of the meetings last year were spent arguing over trivial issues, and the former co-coordinators planned events without consulting members. They also overspent by $3,000, and one co-coordinator was asked to leave for “taking an unnecessary trip.”

“There was a lot of squabbling between two coordinators,” said new Coordinator Morgan Stimson, who was elected this summer.

Stimson is very optimistic about the coming year. He hopes to revive the club by working more closely with student government, giving members more control of the group’s agenda, and taking steps to build a stronger sense of community.

Stimson said that last year all the group’s decisions seemed to be made by the same small clique, and the meetings functioned more as a volunteer recruiting session for Q&A events than as a forum for members.

“There was some ego inflation,” Stimson said. “People were out for their own self promotion.”

As a result, less than half a dozen people were attending regular meetings by the end of last year.

“Young white gay men had a stranglehold on this organization,” ASPSU Equal Rights Advocate Mary Fletcher said. “There was no cohesion. We want to make this organization more inclusive of women, people of color and trans people. If we’re not embracing and supporting them the minute they walk on campus, we’re doing a great disservice to the entire queer community.”

There are now 72 registered members of Q&A, and Fletcher hopes to attract more women and queer individuals from diverse ethnic groups. Last year, she said, Queers & Allies did not offer enough support for them.

Other goals this year include finding space for a Queer Resource Center, writing a proposal to build more gender neutral restrooms on campus and teaming up with other student groups.

“It’s going to be a different organization,” Fletcher said.

Stimson and Fletcher said it is not their goal to speak badly about former leaders. “It’s not about personal attacks, but rather recognizing that there have been failures in this organization and addressing what we are going to do about them.” “I think the leadership did a good job,” member Michael Wright said. Wright was only able to attend a few meetings last year, but said he joined to make friends, and has. His only complaint is the poor turnouts at many events sponsored by Queers & Allies.

About 50 people went to the Queers & Allies Halloween dance, but at later dances only a handful showed.

Fletcher attributes the poor attendance, in part, to poor publicity. “They were fliering the campus, but that’s not enough,” she said.

She also thinks some members grew bored with the same dances and movie nights that Q&A had always done. This year she and Stimson plan to give members more say in group activities.

“We’re queer. We are the fun people on campus. If we’re all bored, there’s a problem,” Fletcher said.