Queer Concordia took the first step in an effort to make the transition from club to fee-levy group last week, with the Concordia Student Union council approving their referendum question to appear on ballots this March. The organization is requesting a two cent per credit fee levy largely for the hiring of a part-time coordinator, ideally someone with an expertise in counselling, who would allow them to keep the doors of their resource centre open to students on a more regular basis.
“Part of the reason why we’re seeking [the fee levy] is to have somebody to be able to keep a regular presence at our office,” said Joey Donnelly, a spokesperson for Queer Concordia. “We find that we’re usually the first stop where a lot of people go to when they have questions regarding sexuality, whether it’s academic or personal. A lot of people come to us as a first stop so we see that demand for our services and a need for a more visible presence of people who identify as queer.”
Donnelly said Queer Concordia is currently more of a referral service and works completely on volunteers, a model he called “unsustainable.” The modest levy they are seeking, two cents per credit for an average of between 48 and 60 cents a year from full-time undergraduate students, would make a big difference in terms of their budget.
“It would basically represent triple what we receive right now from the CSU as a club,” Donnelly said, adding that while they currently receive approximately $4,000 from the CSU the levy itself would bring approximately $12,000 more to their budget according to their calculations.
The group is also in consultations with Queer McGill, a service centre with a budget in the area of $40,000, in order to establish a concrete plan for the finances. “We also realize that with extra cash comes extra responsibility and we wanted to ensure that […] that process is done transparently and in an accountable manner,” Donnelly said. “We don’t want to overextend our budget or ask for too much money where we don’t necessarily have plans for that money.”
Some councillors at CSU asked for clarification as to how the newly-funded Queer Concordia centre would differ from the existing 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy.
Donnelly explained that they deal more with issues of sexuality, while 2110 deals more with gender and there shouldn’t be much overlap. “We feel that we would be sister organizations with 2110, that we would complement each other really well.”
Largely however, councillors voiced strong support for the fee levy.
There is still some work to be done for the organization. Councillor Lex Gill successfully amended the motion to accept Queer Concordia’s question, pending their ability to prove they are legally incorporated and have a functioning board of directors, both of which are required in order to receive fee-levy funds, by the time ballots are in next month. Donnelly said the group is currently engaged in the process of being incorporated as a non-profit organization and hopefully will have that taken care of shortly.
Once that’s completed, he said the next step is to organize a “yes” campaign and illustrate how this centre can benefit all students.
“We think for 60 cents a year, for less than a cup of coffee or a bag of chips, to be able to have access to a space like this, plus have a group advocate for free safer sex products, I think it’s a win-win situation for everybody,” Donnelly said.
“Giving a chance for queer people to have a voice on campus, that’s what a person’s two cents is worth.”