State of the Union
Words by Brodie Scott
Next month in the city you might see the arrival of Feast Festival, one of South Australia’s biggest events held annually to celebrate pride. It’ll be turning 21, as old as many of us.
Walking in the march that takes place before it officially opens in the CBD has been a tradition for a friend of mine for nearly five years. He tells me about the elaborate floats, the banners, the many colours and people who assemble and move through the streets chanting all the way to the festival area in large numbers. When they arrive, they’re greeted by a small group of vocal religious fundamentalists carrying placards with Bible quotes, preaching and yelling through a crude microphone and amp about sin and morality. They’re not very pleasant, I’m told.
But every year the impartial response by police in managing any conflict between the two groups is consistently praised by both sides. The city council works hard to ensure both can participate and express themselves, even the smaller group out of touch with the values of myself and others. Both the police and the council have a job to be unbiased and to fulfill a duty to the public, of which the marchers and the preachers are members, and despite whatever their own convictions might be.
In exactly the same way, the Union board has a responsibility as a public body to act impartially for its members and all students on campus. We’re a service provider to students, with the responsibility to include and equally enfranchise everyone regardless of gender, sexuality, religious belief and, especially, political conviction.
How we follow that principle as an organisation can be seen in everything we do on campus. Student Care, a body run by the union, supports everyone who access’s their services in ways specific and meaningful to them, including LGBTIQA+ identifying students. We fund clubs that represent all view points and identities, including the active and influential Pride Club as well as religious societies. By publishing On Dit every year we seek to facilitate a space for students to engage in a discussion about issues not widely covered in the mainstream media. Queer Dit in its second year of publication is an edition that raises the profile of issues specific to the community, and one the Union endorses.
To maintain our independence and to keep to the integrity of what we do for all students, the board voted down two motions; putting a statement on our Facebook page supporting the ‘Yes’ side and endorsing a rally. We effectively said no as an organisation to supporting a specific political campaign (as we should do in the future) based on the need to fulfil our mandate to students and an ideal that was lost on another person when they said to me we should disenfranchise certain groups of students; equality.
Aside from that long piece, enjoy this year’s Queer Dit!