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The Landing seeks $1.50 per semester to increase services, space

The Landing, a student space for gender and sexual diversity located in the Students’ Union Building, is asking students if they support a $1.50 fee per student per semester on this year’s Students’ Union election ballot.

The fee will apply to full-time and part-time undergraduate students in the Fall and Winter semester. Augustana and Off-Campus students will be exempt and there will be an online option to opt out of the fee.

If the referendum passes, the $1.50 will fund operating costs, programming, events, outreach and awareness, grants and a volunteer program.

The “yes” campaign for The Landing’s referendum question is run by Daniella Marchand and side-manager Linh Lu. The Landing’s Program Manager, Parker Leflar, joins them.

1. What does The Landing currently do?

Daniella Marchand: Right now, The Landing runs drop-in hours, we have different kinds of engagement opportunities like a trans meet up night, and Rainbow Peers, which is a peer support community.

Linh Lu: We do a lot of awareness campaigns like promoting equity and inclusivity now on campus … just to let people know that this is an inclusive space and we promote these issues as well.

2. What do you hope to do with the money?

Marchand: The programming we’re running this year is more of a taste of what we’re doing in the future. We want to have more funds to do more awareness campaigns and really promote ourselves and the fact that we’re a safe space on campus.

Lu: We really want to promote what we have on North Campus to Campus Saint-Jean and hopefully spread out from there.

3. Why should all students’ care, and not just the LGBTQ community?

Marchand: At any point in anyone’s life, you might of faced the boundary of your gender expression or gender binary rules you portray.
You need a space that’s free of homophobia, sexism, racism or any of these discriminatory things that come from society.

Lu: There is a question of, “but it doesn’t help me.” The Landing provides support for specific individuals, but campus is not just about one person and their experience, it’s about the community. Creating that sense of community is really important by creating that atmosphere is important on campus.

Parker Leflar: I think a lot of people wonder who to ask and how to ask, and this is the space for that.

4. What is your response to students who do not believe in any tuition fee increases whatsoever?

Leflar: You can opt out. We’re not going to force anyone to pay a fee they don’t want to. If it’s not for you, that’s totally fine, but we want allow other people to say “yes” to something they really want and they really need.

5. As you may or may not know, The Gateway does weekly news haikus. Give us a haiku as to why students should vote “yes.”

Marchand:

Safe spaces for all
Warm, welcoming and friendly
Vote “yes” for our cause

Lu:

Please vote! Yes! Yes! Yes!
Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!
Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!

Leflar:

We want your money
But not very much of it
Support safe spaces!

21 Comments

  1. Your discomfort with the word “queer” being used in event titles would be feedback that could be submitted to The Landing for consideration. The space, after all, does exist for the students. You are welcome to contact us (any staff member or volunteer) and submit feedback any time. There are also anonymous feedback forms in the space, or you could send an e-mail to thelanding@su.ualberta.ca.
    Specific concerns such as this, however, are a different issue than that of this referendum.
    For those of you who do not think The Landing performs a valuable service, that is your opinion. Everyone has different views regarding what is helpful.
    Many people have been accessing the space, and feel differently, as can be seen by the comments on this article alone.
    I’ve reviewed the statistics; there have been over 1000 visits to the space this year during drop in hours, not counting events. The student group Rainbow Peers averages ten members a week, and this is just one of the three groups run out of The Landing either weekly, biweekly or monthly.
    Some individuals feel significantly safer due to the increased awareness/addition of gender neutral washrooms.
    Students now do need this space. It is being used and accessed, and aims to be able to preform more of these services, and others that will improve student life in the future.
    Of course, if any of you have feedback regarding existing services, or others that you believe would be more effective for The Landing to offer, you are entirely free to suggest them.
    Thanks!

  2. Hello everyone,

    I hope you are all having lovely days. I recognize the week after reading week can be incredibly hectic and I hope you are all taking time for self care.

    I am no longer a student at the University of Alberta. I graduated with an undergraduate degree in psychology in December 2013 – before the Landing came into existence. Throughout my degree, I struggled to find a safe space where I belonged. I spent much of my time wondering why I was the only trans* person at the U of A, and often left campus for days on end because I couldn’t handle feeling like an outsider. I have always had beautiful friends, but regarding gender identity, I felt genuinely alone for years. I developed some unhealthy coping mechanisms which I am still learning to deal with.
    While I am no longer a student at the U of A, I have seen the Landing provide people with a safe, non judgemental space to share stories and be heard. I have seen the Landing’s trained volunteers save lives, I have seen open and honest conversations, I have seen education and awareness take place within a space that finally feels like home.
    According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime, and mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through family and friends. As a previous individual commented, the mental health issues present at the U of A are no secret, and the Landing addresses these incredibly prominent issues through the use of community building and awareness campaigns.
    I am grateful that my friends at the University of Alberta are able to access this resource when they need support.
    By voting yes you have the opportunity to support hundreds of students who are now able to create genuine caring communities. While we all have different lived experiences, we are all human. We all struggle, we all feel emotions, and our stories are real. Please keep that in mind, this election season.

    Thank you for your time,
    Rafiki

  3. I don’t think it’s very tasteful to tell someone what they are/aren’t allowed to be offended by. It’s fine if you enjoy labelling yourself with a slur but not everyone who is LGBT feels empowered by the term. Beyond it’s years of violent history, the word “queer” reduces everyone in the LGBT community to one identity. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and trans people all have VERY different struggles.

    The Landing uses the term “queer” in most of their events. This has made attending the upcoming Pride Week event very unappealing to me. I don’t feel comfortable or safe at an event titled “Intersections of Queer Symposium” when I don’t identity with that label or feel like my experiences can be reduced to that term.

  4. i really don’t understand this resurgence i’ve noticed of people saying queer is an irredeemable slur and that they’re offended by its use as an umbrella term. i mean, obviously we shouldn’t use words for people that they don’t use for themselves. and if you don’t see yourself as part of the queer community, that’s fine. i personally wouldn’t try to call you in to it if you say it’s not for you.

    just please understand that queer communities have worked really effing hard for this word, and it’s so hurtful to see it being trashed. no other word has ever felt like home for me. without queer, i literally have no coherent way of understanding or expressing myself as a gendered, sexual, and romantic human.

    you be princess dyke, and i’ll be queer person 🙂

    anyway, i don’t want to start a language/identity politics argument on this thread. but i’ve also never heard any volunteers or staff at the landing say that they’re just for queer people or communities. they make it really clear that the space is for all lgbtqia+ people, and anyone outside those communities/identities who cares about gender and sexual diversity too.

  5. Whoa, Kalyna. Maybe you shouldn’t assume that I identify as “queer” – that word is a slur. Labelling other people that you don’t even know as “queer” and throwing that word around is exactly why some people don’t feel safe in The Landing.

    You can’t compare this to tax dollars. I don’t agree with The Landing needing money at all (and yes, I am well aware of what The Landing does). If I felt that LGBT people had a genuine use for the services, I would happily pay money to their cause if I didn’t use those services myself.. Other SU organizations do not compare.

  6. I wanted to throw in my voice to this discussion. As a student who is not openly out, The Landing is one of the few spaces I can go and be myself. On our busy campus it is so easy to become just another face in the crowd, but at The Landing, I feel like me, not just another student. The volunteers there are all wonderful, honest people who try their hardest to make it a welcoming and warm space.

    I’d also like to address the comments about The Landing not needing staff – every single SU service has staff people (SafeWalk, SustainSU, The Peer Support Centre, The Food Bank, The Sexual Assault Centre). The Landing is a service for students, and so, there needs to be staff people on hand (especially since a lot of us that go are in vulnerable positions on campus and having staff people mean that there is not a huge weight placed on volunteers if there are large issues at hand). All of the services I listed above people consider absolutely necessary, and so, I am really discouraged that people think having a safe space for those of us who feel alone isn’t a necessary thing. I recognize that not all queer people will use the space and it won’t fit for everyone, but for those of us who do, it is life changing, and I would argue, life saving. Feeling alone on campus is scary, and not having anyone to talk to about being queer is very very terrible. I can go to The Landing’s events because they are a student service in SUB so to other people it doesn’t seem like just a “queer thing.” It is freeing to be able to have an accessible service for queer things that doesn’t make it obvious what my gender or sexual orientation is.

    I think a big thing to remember is that The Landing is doing advocacy work for gender and sexual rights across campus. If you want a social space or more big scale queer events (like drag shows/ makeup or out of town trips), then OUTreach is across the hall from The Landing (and also full of some of the most wonderful people I’ve met).

    So, I want to say I’m going to be voting YES for The Landing. It is a service that needs to continue for students like myself. Even if you don’t feel like it suits you, I would urge you to please still vote yes so that they can reach students who feel alone on campus, or aren’t able to access other services. This space has been a long time coming, and I will be embarrassed to be a U of A student if the question should not pass. We as a university should be forward thinking, and a community. The Landing is creating a sense of community. It is helping people, especially newly queer and questioning people to not feel as alone on campus. It is also a great jumping off point to feeling comfortable enough to go to other groups, like OUTreach and meet other people (because I’ve had a volunteer from The Landing offer to sit with me at OUTreach when I mentioned I was nervous about going so that I would know someone the first time I went).

    I know I probably can’t change the minds of people already determined to vote no, but I just wanted to let people know that this space does need to exist. I wish it had existed in my first year instead of my fourth so I wouldn’t have spent so many years on campus unsure of what to do, or nervous about meeting the queer/ allied groups and people on campus because they are all so kind, open and honest.

    Please, for other students like me, vote yes.

  7. In response to previous comments, if you check out the links Parker provided in response to Niol, there definitely is designation for the money. I encourage a more thorough read. This “no designation” point is simply untrue.

    I’d like to throw my opinion out there as a Landing patron in the first term, and a volunteer in the second term of this year.

    I don’t think that it’s easy to understand how important things like engagement opportunities are for those who feel isolated, alone, and/or ashamed of their identity, if you have not personally experienced it.
    It can be absolutely essential to have a group or space where you know you won’t be judged for sharing these things about yourself, and will be accepted as you are.
    The mental health issues on campus and the consequences of such are no secret. The Landing is a preventative service that helps in mitigating possible tragedies. I say from personal experience, that sometimes, when you are having difficulty coping, you need somewhere safe to go in the middle of the day, or a group to look forward to where you’ll be able to talk about it, and this makes all the difference.
    People come to groups at the Landing when they feel like they have no where to go, or to learn about LGBTQ* issues, or just be somewhere safe.
    You do not need to identify as LGBTQ* to visit the Landing, but these options are essential, since many LGBTQ*people do not feel safe or simply understood talking about their specific challenges in a less specialized space.

    There are other spaces for LGBTQ* people in Edmonton. Some of us do not need the groups or services, but not everyone has a community or support in their struggles with identity or as an ally. You may find that this service may not help /you/, but it is helping /someone/.

    Why does the space need funding and staff? Well, why does something like Safewalk need funding and staff? It’s also mostly volunteer run. It’s not helping everyone, but it is helping someone. The service can be the difference between a person feeling safe on campus, or not.
    Of course, the services are different, however, it is a bit of a similar idea. ALL of the student’s union services will not help everyone, but the point is that they are there for everyone to access, for those who feel they need them.

    As for awareness campaigns… yes, these may not make a grand difference for everyone, past the realization that, for example, “oh, some people need gender neutral washrooms? Huh, hadn’t thought about that before,” but for those who do need gender neutral washrooms in order to feel secure on campus, it matters A LOT.

    In my personal opinion, society as a whole still needs to become much more aware of the challenges LGBTQ* people who are “different” face. As an example, legal rights for transgender individuals still leave a lot to be desired, and societal safety and awareness for trans* and non-binary individuals is similarly lacking. Things still need to change so many individuals can live their lives fully and equally. A big part of this change is catalyzed by universities, as we set an example, and of course, graduates will move on into their jobs and lives past the university bubble. By creating an accepting and knowledgeable environment here, alumni will influence their environments in the future and create a more inclusive society as a whole. I know this is a little abstract, but it’s just my two cents.

    Note that if the referendum doesn’t pass, the Landing will still exist, but it will not be able to operate to the same degree it has been, which would mean that a lot of the truly great things this space is doing for people would be lesser in future years.

    If you think, even a little, that LGBTQ* people and allies need spaces to feel heard, to ask questions, to make connections, to feel safe, and a space that will fight for them in university and in society as a whole, please vote YES.

    If you personally don’t agree with contributing three bucks a year, you can easily opt out – and all the more power to you, it’s your money. However, just because you feel it doesn’t help /you/ shouldn’t be the reason you decide that it isn’t necessary.

    Thanks for taking the time to read and have a grand day. 🙂

  8. It seems odd that you are underwhelmed by what the Landing is currently doing, yet don’t see the point of having anyone paid for their work there. Do you not see that those two things are linked? If the Landing is expected to be run by volunteers, it’s not going to live to its full potential as students have to juggle other responsibilities. There are other services and groups through SU that have paid staff members – SafeWALK comes to mind, as well as APIRG (although that’s not directly related to the SU), so why do we expect the LGTBQ+ community to consistently perform life-saving services without having any longterm financial security for the people working there?

    It’s heartbreaking to see other queer people cast skepticism as to what the Landing is capable of doing. Numerous universities across Canada already have designated spaces (that yes, are staffed) for LGBTQ+ people. The Landing is not an anomaly – the University of Alberta is catching up with the rest of Canada in terms of promoting and creating safe spaces for students all across campus, regardless if it’s immediately needed or not for the individuals. Everyone here as a student is already paying for services that may not be personally applicable. I never once attended the gym on campus, yet it was something that I paid for. As a Canadian, my tax dollars go towards funding social services that I may never need in my life, but if everyone pitches in the cost of a cup of coffee then incoming queer students in the future can continue to receive the services and support that they might need. That altruism will benefit everyone, as safer spaces for one minority promote a more tolerant environment for everyone.

  9. I am definitely voting NO for this. There seems to be absolutely no designation for this money. I don’t think this much money is needed to run ‘awareness campaigns’ or have ‘engagement opportunities’. I also don’t see why the Landing needs paid staff, since my understanding is that this is a volunteer run space.

    Every time I have stopped by the Landing, or went to an event run by the Landing I have been thoroughly underwhelmed. It doesn’t seem like services are being used or are actually useful.

    Since the space is almost entirely volunteer run, what is the point of external, tuition-based funding? What makes this group so special that they should be given this much money?

  10. Hi Parker,
    Thanks for your reply, but I’m actually well aware of the services provided and events hosted by The Landing. I just don’t believe that this funding is well justified, sorry.

  11. Hi H,

    As I mentioned above, you can learn more about what the Landing does by checking out our programs on the website: http://su.ualberta.ca/thelanding. You’re also welcome to come to our drop-in hours to see the space, meet our volunteers, and learn more.

    Fun fact: Since launching in September 2014, the Landing has had over 1000 visits! Since we’re so new, we’re still getting the word out. That said, LGBTQ* communities are of course huge and diverse, so we don’t expect that our services are a perfect fit for everyone, but we’re really open to ideas about how to reach more folks and be as useful a resource as possible.

    For more info about the referendum question specifically, including how the money would be used, have a look through this fact sheet: http://goo.gl/s9tKMV
    The last page covers frequently asked questions such as why the Landing needs this money.

  12. Hey Niol, if you want to learn more about what the Landing does, you can check out our programs on the website: http://su.ualberta.ca/thelanding. Feel free to swing by anytime during drop-in hours as well to meet our volunteers and hear what it’s all about.

    For more info about the referendum question, including how the money would be used, have a look through this fact sheet: http://goo.gl/s9tKMV
    The last page covers frequently asked questions such as why the Landing needs this money.

    Hope this helps clarify and that armed with more information, you might change your vote!

  13. I vote ‘No’ since it seems like no true plans are being made for the money, also, I don’t actually hear of people using the services anyway. (At least in my LGBT circle).

    Even if it was approved, I’d still opt out.

  14. Hmm. It doesn’t seem like The Landing has a need for this much money since it doesn’t appear that there is any real designation for this money. As an LGBT person, I can attest to this not benefiting me. One big ‘No’ for me.

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