October 6, 2023 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

In response to students’ desires for support, especially for equity-denied members of the community, two groups, the BIPOC Student Support Group and the 2SLGBTQIA+ Support Group, will be active at King’s this year.

“King’s is committed to being a place where everyone can belong, to discuss their ideas and experiences and build a community within a community,” says Joe Henry, Dean of Students, who notes that these groups are student-driven.

The BIPOC Student Support Group will return to King’s for a second year, with the first meeting taking place on October 10, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and run every second and fourth Tuesday in the Vitali Lounge Extension until the end of March. Various topics chosen by the students will be presented and discussed. There will be conversations about racism, discrimination, microaggression, sexism, and other important topics. Students are welcome to join any or all gatherings and there is no registration required. 

The platform will acknowledge each individual's differences and project their voice on campus. It will allow allies to understand and gain knowledge on topics that can be hard to tackle. This foundation is vital, as it provides diversity and inclusivity. It creates an open space for people of colour while educating others on campus.

In addition, the group will promote and encourage the students to attend events by and for the various student groups.

The formation of the BIPOC Student Support Group had its beginning in the spring/summer of 2021, when members of King’s Student Affairs undertook an anti-racism education program offered by Shifting Perspectives, an anti-racism education program. During this time, a conversation took place about offering a program to support BIPOC students.

Christina Lord, co-owner of Shifting Perspectives (along with Jennifer Slay, Director of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Decolonization) and facilitator of the BIPOC Student Support Group, says the students who attended the group’s sessions last year found it beneficial and were open to sharing their lived experiences both on and off campus.

Lord says the BIPOC Student Support Group supports students by “having a safer space to gather. Safer because feeling safe is subjective so we hope to provide a safer space rather than a safe space.”

The 2SLGBTQIA+ Support Group will have their first meeting on October 12, 2023, from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m., and will meet every other Thursday in the Vitali Lounge Extension in Wemple Hall.

Ashleigh Lucas and Erin Michalski, two Master's of Social Work students, suggested forming this group when they noticed there seemed to be a lack of queer representation/queer spaces on campus.

“We wanted to help foster an environment where queer people could gather as a community and share our experiences. We hope this support group can provide that safe and supportive space,” says Michalski.

Dr. Zoe Leyland, Coordinator, EDIDA (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Decolonization, Accessibility) and Interprofessional Education in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Western University and a member of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, will be facilitating the group, which will provide information and “a brave space for students to come as they are.”

“I hope to facilitate a safe, open dialogue on the needs of students, whether it's learning about pronouns, exploring sexual identities, making connections with other queer members of the community, sharing resources, or learning about the art of drag. Be vulnerable, ask questions, and collaborate,” says Dr. Leyland.

Henry hopes that these two groups, and others like them, will provide a tangible signal to our community that our students can be who they are and be recognized for the gifts they bring to our community.