On Friday 3rd May, the LGBT+ Society hosted the fourth annual Pride on Campus event on the University of Plymouth campus. The charity event is a student-led day full of activities to celebrate our LGBTQIA+ community here at the University of Plymouth, raise awareness of relevant issues and to highlight the support services available. The aim is also to raise money for selected charities, this year the chosen charities were Brain Tumour Research and the MS Society.
The LGBT+ Society is dedicated to supporting and representing students who are part of the LGBT+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and all other sexualities & gender identities) community. Pride on Campus has grown as an event over the past four years and has developed at the hands of dedicated University of Plymouth students. Throughout the day various charities, organisations as well as sports and societies around campus supported pride and provided information and an insight into what they do and how they can support the LGBTQIA+ community.
"Pride on Campus holds a dear and very important place in my heart, having witnessed it grow since it was first started. It stands for being a safe space for everyone, especially people from marginalised groups that may not feel that on a day to day basis. It stands for people coming together to support one another, to make steps forward for the LGBT+ community, to be intersectional, and to never forget about the history of the LGBT+ community and the true roots behind the progress made. A lot of hard work and countless hours go into organising the event for our students and I would not take back any of it. I'm sure fellow organisers would agree. I can't wait for another amazing Pride on Campus and to see it grow further over the coming years!" (Goda Cegialyte, President 2018/19, Treasurer 2019/20)
"Having been involved with Pride on Campus every single year since it began, I understand it's importance and its necessity within our student community now, more than ever. It is a chance to remember the reasons that Pride events exist, as a protest, but also a chance to celebrate the progress we have made and are still making day by day together, as a community. Pride on Campus has been an event that I look forward to every year, where I feel welcome and a part of something bigger than myself; an event where a difference is made. I am proud to be a part of this society, helping to create a safe and inclusive space for the students and staff and proud to be a part of Pride on Campus" (Catherine Jones, Secretary 2018/19, President 2019/20)
Students are at the heart of our function as a Students' Union. Student Representatives are elected by University of Plymouth students every year and work on student's behalf on various issues across all areas of student life. The VP Welfare and Diversity is a full time role, the remit of which includes the representation of the interests of students on issues affecting liberation groups including the LGBT+ community.
"Pride on Campus is a chance to showcase what makes us stronger as a Students' Union - equality, diversity, and community. This student-led event demonstrates how resourceful and passionate our student body can be. Ultimately, pride on campus is the fuel that fires our fight for rights and respect across campus. And obviously, congrats to the LGBT+ Society for pulling this event together!" (Tilda Fraser, VP Diversity and Wellbeing 2018/19, UPSU President 2019/20)
"Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia still exist and it's important now like ever before to unite on campus and proudly hold a stance against discrimination and violence towards the LGBT+ community. Pride on Campus is not only a celebration of equality, diversity and inclusion but most importantly it's one day of protest which is fought daily by the LGBT+ community and allys". (Alex Doyle, UPSU President 2018/19)
Our Part-Time Officers represent particular groups or demographics of students, supporting students to make sure that their voice is heard.
"As the current standing LGBT+ part time Officer at UPSU, and as a member (and future committee member) of the LGBT+ society, I come into contact with a lot of Plymouth’s LGBT+ community. And I will always tell anybody who asks that the community here has a lot to be proud of. Pride was not always happy, nor a parade of rainbows. Pride started as a struggle, as a fight for life. This is why we do it. Because the right to live our lives how we want was once taken away from us, and we aren’t going to let it go" (Brandon Carr-Malloch, LGBT+ Part Time Officer, Social Secretary 2019/20)
We were privileged to receive quotes from past and current members of the LGBT+ Society, past Sabbatical Officers and members of UPSU staff on what this event, Pride on Campus, means to them:
- "Pride gives me a sense of belonging in a world that doesn't always make me feel welcome" (Jody Carver, LGBT+ society member)
- "Pride is a celebration of how far we've come, and a recognition of the journey that is still ahead of us. The fight is far from over, but in this country we often forget that. So let's march together, laugh together, and cry together so that changes can be made and equality can be achieved worldwide" (Holly Stock, LGBT+ society member, Campaigns Officer for 2019/20)
- "I have been part of the society for the majority of my time at university and I have been helping with Pride on Campus since its inception. These Pride events are important to me because I have never taken part in any major Pride events across the country, so having a mini Pride event makes me feel proud and a part of something" (Alex Davis, Campaigns Officer 2018/19, Health and Safety Officer for 2019/20)
- "Pride on Campus has been a wonderful event for us every year! And having been a part of it for the last 3 years I can safely say its extremely rewarding and great fun for all, it's also important to show the university's constant and ever-growing inclusivity with their LGBT+ students. We make sure to keep this event fresh and exciting as well as educational to those who may not be so well informed. Overall pride on campus is always a super successful event that I absolutely love getting involved with and we encourage everyone to come along and take part" (Jack Peters, Social Secretary 2018/19)
- "Pride on campus is important to me because I come from a small city where there was no pride or any LGBT events. As a result, I never really felt a part of the community. Now being a part of pride on campus makes me feel as if I'm a part of the LGBT+ community. Having pride on campus allows people who, like me, have never experienced pride to come to a safe space and enjoy themselves and feel a part of the community" (Molly Austin-Knight, Social Secretary 2018/19, Secretary 2019/20)
- "Pride on Campus has always been a fun and successful event and with it bringing people from so many different walks of life under one roof shows so much promise to the inclusivity within our campus as well as the general Plymouth area. As someone who has only recently started exploring the LGBT+ community and culture the event provides a great environment for not only me but others who are still figuring these things out to get some exposure and possibly learn how they fit within the community" (Seamus Craig, Health and Safety Officer 2018/19)
- "Pride events happen worldwide, and started as a protest. They were to fight for the rights of LGBT+ people everywhere, to raise awareness for the issues they faced. However, we have come a long way since then, and Pride on Campus was designed to celebrate the LGBT+ community here in Plymouth, especially our students. We want to make it clear that the University of Plymouth would forever welcome all and any students, regardless of their gender identity or sexual identities. The LGBT+ Society love hosting Pride on Campus and wish to see the number of people who get involved increase every year; so we ask everyone to join us in celebrations, and to raise money for our chosen charities!" (Max Skinner-Cizmas, Treasurer 2018/19)
- "Pride on Campus encompasses all things surrounding happiness and inclusion for me" (Rhi Kay, member of UPSU)
- "With countries across the world bringing back anti-LGBT+ laws, it’s more important than ever that Pride is not just a celebration, but a show of solidarity and a part of the battle against transphobia, biphobia and homophobia. Pride on Campus for me is all about standing together as students and staff to demonstrate that the University of Plymouth champions equality and acceptance for all!" (Lowri Jones, University of Plymouth, former UPSU president)
- "Pride on Campus was founded in 2015 by the committee of the LGBT+ society, initially due to the fact that Plymouth Pride was out of term time and therefore inaccessible by non-resident Plymouth Students. However, Pride on Campus is now a fully fledged annual event in it’s own right. As well putting on a great range of evening entertainment over the years, the event also hosts an important space for local organisations and agencies to engage and interact with the LGBT+ student community. This will be my 2ndyear returning to the event with my organisation, and again we can’t wait to come along and chat to the attendees and other organisations. And of course I look forward to taking part in the Pride March as Pride is still first and foremost a day for activism!" (Vicky Jackson, Citizens Advice Bureau, former President of LGBT+ Society)
- "It's amazing what the LGBT+ society have done this year for Brain Tumour Research and MS Society. One amazing charity to another! Come support this magical event with all communities together supporting two important causes. The last pride events have been funny, colourful and full of joy, it's a day not to be missed! With a loud and proud march around campus in the middle". (Michelle Rysdale, Events Manager UPSU)
Find out more about the LGBT+ Society here and the roles of full and part-time democratically elected officers here.