There’s a new organization on campus that does not yet have a name or a mission statement. What it does have is eager members with a shared desire to create an institution many feel Wesleyan is lacking. Some of the group’s founders intend it to fill the void left by the Queer Alliance, once the umbrella organization for several other Wesleyan clubs related to GLBTQQFAGBDSM issues, without succumbing to the infighting that plagued the now-defunct QA.
Whether the new group will be queer in the sense of radical politics, as QA was, and whether the word “queer” will even appear in the organization’s name, remains open to debate.
Paige Kruza ’07, one of the students most actively involved in queer and transgender politics on campus, has been instrumental in the formation of the group.
“I got the ball rolling on this,” Kruza said. “I would not say I’m founding it, but I thought there was a need for this because I heard people bitching all last year about the need for a group open to anyone wanting to focus on queer stuf—ecause all the [queer/GLBTQetc.] groups that existed last year were either social support groups or focused on specific [identities—rans people, etc. It seemed like a lot of people […]wanted something centralized to exist, but didn’t want to start one.”
One of the first tasks the group faces is to resolve the question of its own identity. Some students, including many of the organization’s frosh, want the group to be inclusive of all aspects of the “endless acronym,” as Wesleyan’s GLBTQetc. community is often called.
Josh Pavlacky ’08 expressed this view and noted that the word “queer” could be used in reference to all GLBTQetc.-identified people.
“In this context we are using queer as an umbrella term, we want to make that clear,” Pavlacky said. “We do not want to invoke the politically radical connotations that ‘queer’ has had on campus in the past. I feel, and others as well, that queer is the easiest way to describe the whole ‘endless acronym’ community. It’s unfortunate that it’s tainted. I think that we will attempt to balance the term’s use, so as not to scare people into thinking we are an elitist political organization.”
According to Kruza, the organization and the word “queer” will likely not disassociated with radical politics.
“The mission [of the group] is being determined,” ze said. “It will have something of a queer focus open to anyone who wants to work on those issues. What’s yet to be determined is the definition of quee—hether it’s GLBTQ stuff or specifically radically queer stuff. It will probably be a combination of those two.”
What has been determined, Kruza said, is that the group will concentrate on education and activism rather than social support for people who identify as GLBTQetc.
Not all students involved in the organization express their goals in the same way.
“I thin—ow I’m obviously not in charge, so this is my take on our discussion—hat this group will be focused on community building,” Pavlacky said. “We want all the queer groups on campus to work together and integrate their functions more closely.”
Pavlacky did, however, agree that education should be a primary concern of the group.
“We want to make sure that the sessions Wes had about gender and orientation don’t end there,” he said. “Education is needed. This campus isn’t 100 percent queer friendly, and it should be. I think that by targeting groups that are historically unfriendly to queer students, with less of an abrasive stance, we could achieve something. Being queer isn’t all rainbows and leather, as we all know.”
Andy Sampson ’08, who has attended and helped facilitate group meetings, elaborated on some of his own goals for the organization.
“I would like to see this organization work with the administrative institutions on campus to have them better support LGBTQQ students, faculty and staff,” Sampson said. “I would also like the organization to take on issues of education – bringing to the campus community a better understanding of LGBTQQ issues. Many new students are lunged into a campus where such understanding is thought to be common knowledge; however, for many students, it isn’t.”