Last week, UTMSU hosted workshops and conversations about social issues through the annual DisOrientation Week, which featured discussions on topics ranging from colonialism to allyship.
The concept of perpetuating safe spaces on campus was prevalent throughout the week and all DisOrientation Week events emphasized the creation of spaces where marginalized groups are able to come together and voice their thoughts.
“I really want these discussions to happen in safe spaces that are healthy and genuine, where you can agree to disagree because we don’t want hostility,” said Genny Lawen, one of the event organizers and former UTMSU VP university affairs and academics. “We want to talk about all the social injustices happening in the world.”
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Equity discussed the topic of anti-sexual violence focusing on bisexual women of colour and trans women. The event covered topics of consent, survivorship, and the stigma around individuals embracing their sexuality.
“There isn’t much engagement and support on campus when it comes to talking about people who’ve experienced the most marginalization and severe sexual violence,” said Jasbina Sekhon, UTMSU’s LGBTQ coordinator. “I want more conversations like this to happen.”
When questioned further about spaces available at UTM for the LGBTQ community, Sekhon called for more resources for members of the trans community.
“A lot of the things the trans community is fighting for are our own spaces and separate funding,” said Sekhon. “There needs to be more funding. There needs to be more people.”
Last Monday features an event discussing the tragedies faced by Aboriginal and Palestinian communities in relation to colonialism and the importance of coexistence.
On Tuesday, UTMSU presented Real Talks: How to Be a Good Ally, the first of a series of talks to be organized throughout the year. Students discussed the concept of allyship and how to help marginalized communities respectfully. The concept of unlearning set behaviors and ideologies was also explored as well as the term “ally” as a status symbol.
“When you are being an ally, don’t take up space. Don’t take up all the attention. Be the silent hero,” said Hashim Yussuf, a second-year criminology student and director on UTMSU’s board. “I learned that being an ally is a lot more than just being there for someone.”
Thursday’s events included self-expression through art and a self-care workshop that advertised to help students discover what self-care means to them and what works best to care for themselves.
DisOrientation Week will conclude with an open mic night on Thursday at the Blind Duck, open to performances by singers, dancers, and other artists.