With Pride Month upon us, isn’t it time that York’s queer-identifying grad students had a space of their own?
That’s what Janelle Curry (MA candidate in Social Anthropology) realized. Curry is the founder of the Queer Graduate Student Caucus at YorkU, the first group of its kind for York’s grad students. Aiming to launch at the beginning of the 2019-2020 academic year, the caucus will provide queer grad students with a vital space for community-building.
“I was kind of shocked we didn’t already have one at York,” says Curry. “I contacted TBL Gay at York and they said it was very specifically for undergraduates. I thought there was a need for this.” Many have already agreed: the nascent group is receiving support from the Faculty of Graduate Studies and the York University Graduate Students’ Association.
The group will offer regular events and networking opportunities, and will help queer-identifying students navigate challenges that are distinct to the graduate level. “I think TBL Gay does a very good job with their events, and it seems like things that I would love if I were 18 and doing an undergrad. But at this level, it’s lot of professionalization. It’s a lot of how to navigate a space like this in your career, or applying for PhDs and knowing which schools will allow you to be yourself and where you’ll get pushback. The difficulties of having a personal life in graduate studies are very different,” says Curry.
“When I was applying for graduate studies, I had a prof who said that academia was incredibly heteronormative. … Even in the first month, I had an interaction with a prof that was just a misunderstanding—nothing wrong—but I did feel like I would like to speak to other queer graduate students to see if this happens often, and how we can navigate this heteronormative space.”