By Matt Rabey
The mandatory number of signatures was collected to signify 10 percent of the Laurentian University student population being in favour of a new $1 per student incidental fee to fund the Laurentian University Pride Office.
James Spires, Vice President of Pride at Laurentian University explains the importance of this new referendum.
“(This referendum) is important because our office is open to everyone, gay and straight. We host events for the gay community and the straight community and are open to any members as long as they are respectful and they believe in what the club tries to promote: diversity and tolerance.”
The President of Pride LU, Jesse Depatie, added: “Our offices and the resources that we offer are all inclusive to anybody and they are there for anybody who needs a safe space. It is another opportunity for people to come and be themselves and not get judged.”
Pride LU hopes to get funding similar to the women’s centre.
“They (the women’s centre) put forward a referendum two or three years ago and they got the funding,” Depatie said. “That’s good that they are getting the funding, but we have a room, we have resources, and we have everything that they have. I feel that we should get just as much funding, if not more than them. Especially for the fact that the women’s centre is for women only and even males have to pay the dollar for the women’s centre.”
The president of Pride LU added: “Pride is for everybody, for the LGBT community and it is for the supporters as well. I understand why the women’s centre does not include guys. It is like the Pride office, it is a safe space. Just like how we don’t want negativity and people who judge others in our space, they don’t want a certain population in their space.”
To answer the question of where the additional funding for Pride LU would be spent Spires said, “The money would be used for resources for events that promote tolerance.”
Depatie added: “The money that we are looking for would go to updating the office, updating the chairs, updating the books, the movies, the pamphlets, all the resources are all really outdated and falling apart. If we (had) more new stuff to offer a lot more people would stop by and use what’s being offered to them.”
The referendum is set to appear on the ballot for the student elections on March 21 and 22.
Vice-President of Issues Michael Martino expressed his thoughts on the referendum: “I’m looking for a place to live where the diversity of humanity is recognized, encouraged and embraced. Our society
has a lot of room for development and this student organization is a very inclusive and very welcoming organization. This is an opportunity for students to further empower this student organization to effect social development within our community and to further contribute to the student movement at Laurentian University.”
The VP continued, saying that he believes in this referendum. “I am very much in favor of this referendum and am very much in support of pride. I really hope that there are enough students who agree with me and who will contribute by coming out and voting in the next election as well as voting in favor of this referendum so that we can build a stronger and more inclusive community.”