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McGill Reporter
November 8, 2001 - Volume 34 Number 05
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Pipe dreams

Photo Gregg Blachford
PHOTO: Owen Egan

Whether you're bisexual, gay, lesbian or transgendered -- student, staff or faculty -- McGill's queer community is being invited to take their experiences out of the closet and share them with their peers.

A new task force is holding its first-ever town hall next Wednesday, to collect anecdotal data on the positive and negative aspects of being queer at McGill. Called "Homophobia and transphobia at McGill?", the meeting is being organized by the McGill Work Group on Queer People (WGQP), which is part of the Joint Senate-Board of Governors Committee on Equity.

"By holding this meeting, it doesn't mean we believe queers face rampant oppression at McGill," says Gregg Blachford, WGQP member, town hall co-facilitator and director of McGill's Career and Placement Service. "Nonetheless, holding this session is an important way to verify if queers face any problems at McGill and, if so, what are they?"

Shari Brotman, who's also a WGQP member and a professor in the School of Social Work, says the queer town hall is an initial step in the process of ensuring that all McGill minorities can air their concerns and have their rights protected. "While we hope that McGill is a progressive institution," she says, "that isn't always the case."

Brotman points to the University of Toronto and Concordia University as two institutions that she believes have surpassed McGill in their efforts to better serve their queer communities. Concordia, for instance, offers a minor in queer studies.

Gay people and their rights, she counters, remain low key at McGill. "As an institution, we need to be au courant," she says, noting being up-to-date could include hiring someone like an ombudsperson to address queer complaints if any arise or creating a queer web site. "Currently, the University doesn't even have a policy in place regarding queer rights."

Protecting queers through institutional policies is paramount, she stresses, since McGill has a population of nearly 35,000 (consisting of students, staff and faculty). And close to 3,500 of that population likely identifies as queer, she approximates, since studies estimate that 10 percent of the population are homosexual.

That's why Brotman says it's critical for McGill queers to attend their town hall. "Our work group needs to know what people would like to see in the future," she says. "And if we had policies, what should they be?"

"This town hall is our way of moving things forward," adds Blachford.

The town hall is on November 14, from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm, in the first-floor Wendy Patrick Room of Wilson Hall (3506 University St.). For more information, please call Estelle Hopmeyer at 514-398-7067. Anyone wishing to relay comments anonymously, before or after the meeting, can do so by writing to homophobiaoncampus@yahoo.ca.

Sold! To the lady with the generous heart

Get ready to place your bids. The gavel is about to come down at the Faculty of Management, which is holding a silent auction on November 22 to help raise over $2,000 for the McGill 2001 Centraide Campaign.

Organized by management lecturer Vivian Vaupshas and communications assistant Kate Maguire-Devlin, the auction will also double as a cocktail mixer, since modestly- priced refreshments will be sold as another fundraising incentive.

All McGillians are being encouraged to donate items, too -- anything that will get people bidding -- from artwork to photography and gift certificates to small appliances. And while some items will be second-hand, the majority will be new, including house wares. One hot item up for grabs will be a tony weekend for two at a Mont-Tremblant resort.

The silent auction is part of several initiatives launched at McGill to support Centraide, (a local charity that redistributes donations to a plethora of community groups). On October 26, for instance, the Admissions, Recruitment and Registrar's Office staff got cooking and raised $624 at a baked good sale. Both events are part of a committed effort by McGill students, staff and faculty to raise $200,000 for Centraide by December 1.

Bidding at the Faculty of Management's silent auction begins at 4 pm on the 6th floor lounge of the Bronfman Building, (1001 Sherbrooke St. W). Entrance will be $1. To donate items, please contact Kate Maguire-Devlin at 398-2133, maguire@management.mcgill.ca For more information on the McGill Centraide Campaign, please consult www.mcgill.ca/centraide.

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