Queer Concordia Reaches Out

Student-Run Group Wants to Extend Office Hours, Services

“We want to be there for members of the Queer Community,” said Joey Donnolley. Photo Christopher Curtis

Queer Concordia is looking to expand the scope of its services by nearly tripling its annual budget.

On Wednesday, the Concordia Student Union Council approved a referendum question asking students to fund Queer Concordia through a $0.02 per credit fee-levy.

Currently, Queer Concordia—a collective that advocates for and provides services to Concordia’s queer community—receives its funding from the CSU’s clubs budget, an amount that can fluctuate from year to year.

If students vote to approve the fee levy during the CSU’s general election in March, the collective’s budget would bump up from $4,000 to $11,000 annually. According to collective member Joey Donnelly, this amount would allow for Queer Concordia to hire a part-time employee to hold more office hours and would expand the collective’s growing library of queer literature.

“For the two years that I’ve been involved with Queer Concordia, there has always been this will to expand our reach,” said Donnelly. “The other universities I have been to or visited all have accessible queer resource centres.

[…] The common complaint we get is that our office isn’t open enough and we want to always be there for members of the [Queer] community. For less than the price of a bag of chips, students can help us accomplish that.”

Queer Concordia has been especially busy lately, as the group has worked alongside the CSU to set up safe sex kit dispensers on campus. The sex kit project, which should be up and running by April, will distribute condoms, lube and gloves to students at no charge.

“[The sex kits] are an example of the kind of service we want people to have access to,” said Donnelly. “It’s something everyone can use. It’s something that happened thanks to cooperation with the CSU.”

With the move towards a fee levy, Queer Concordia members can expect to have even more work cut out for them. To begin, the collective has to incorporate itself as a non-profit organization to be eligible for a fee-levy. The process of incorporation takes about three weeks, but also requires the collective to appoint a board of governors and make annual financial statements available to the provincial government.

“If you’re working with a small budget, it’s possible to just manage the budget with volunteers,” said Patrice Blais, a lawyer who teaches a course on NPOs at Concordia. “But it’s still a complicated process.”

Yesterday, Blais met with Donnelly to begin the incorporation process. While Donnelly told The Link that he has previous experience starting NPOs, he also admitted that Queer Concordia’s transition from club to fee levy group could present certain complications.

For instance, the CSU guarantees Queer Concordia club space at 2020 MacKay St., but if the collective incorporates itself it would have to secure space directly from the university. Although Donnelly would like Queer Concordia to move into the more spacious 2110 Mackay St.—the site of the university’s Centre for Gender advocacy—he hasn’t contacted anyone from Concordia’s Facilities Management department yet and has no guarantee the move is even possible.

But before any of these issues can be sorted out, Donnelly needs to get student support for the collective’s fee levy.

“It isn’t much money,” he said. “We’re just volunteers who really want to create safe spaces for Queers and allies.”

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 23, published February 15, 2011.