Students Elect New Queer Rep to KSA Council
News / April 11, 2017
Joseph Thorpe hopes to revamp Pride this year
Alyssa Laube, Associate Editor
During his time as a student at KPU, Joseph Thorpe has seen Pride’s presence on campus rise, fall, and eventually settle into relative inactivity. The previous two Queer Representatives for the Kwantlen Student Association, Ryot “R” Jey and Kayla England, both left part-way through their terms to focus on personal health and well-being, and ince Jey’s resignation last November, the position has been vacant.
Thorpe will now be assuming the title of Queer Representative, and he says he has big plans for the Pride Kwantlen collective during the coming year.
“Pride was something I was super excited about when I came to Kwantlen and I wanted to really establish it again and make it something exciting and and important. Because it hasn’t really been doing that lately,” says Thorpe.
He has already started brainstorming ideas for workshops, campaigns, and events for 2017 and 2018. One such workshop will focus on what it means to be an ally, which he feels is crucial to both students and councillors for the KSA. Thorpe will also be working on getting the KPU community excited for Pride Week and the float that Pride Kwantlen will have in this summer’s parade. Continuing to request more same-sex, gender-neutral washrooms around campus is in the plans as well, and he will be continuing to run weekly meetings for Pride Kwantlen on the Surrey campus.
In response to an issue with the term “queer” as a descriptor for the KPU LGBTQ+ community that was raised to Council by ex-queer representative Kayla England, Thorpe will be having discussions with the members of the Pride collective as well as the new KSA councillors and executives.
“It used to have a negative connotation, but the community took it and made it into a power word,” he says. “If you say ‘queer’, you mean, ‘I am okay with myself and I am okay with being out.’ That’s where the word really comes from.”
His personal feelings are that LGBTQ+ is the best umbrella term to use because it is the most widely accepted, though he’s open to a vote by Council on the matter.
Overall, Thorpe’s goal is “being understood and being visual” as a member of the queer community at KPU, and ensuring that others in the community feel included and connected to one another.
“We’re in Surrey, and not a lot of people are out here compared to a place like Vancouver, so it’s hard to be able to push an agenda like that or push your feelings of pride in Surrey,” says Thorpe. “At UBC it’s very easy to do that, but Kwantlen has sort of lacked in that. There’s not a lot of support for it, and since Pride’s not functioning, there’s not even a safe place for people to go right now.”
Because of the renovations happening in the Surrey campus’ Birch building, Pride Kwantlen has been going without a space for meetings and events since last summer. With its reopening, however, the collective will once again have an area to call home.
“In line with getting Pride started up again, that creates more of an area for people to share and understand that LGBTQ people go to this school and we’re here and we want to feel welcomed and that we have a place here,” says Thorpe. “Again, one of the reasons I joined was to showcase to the university that there are inclusion problems.”