UMSU LGBTTQ* representative Eun-Bi Kang will be bringing forward a motion to change the name of her position to the Gender, Sexual and Relationship Diversities (GSRD) representative at Thursday’s board meeting — a decision she now fears may have been “naive.”
After receiving only 15 signatures on a petition to change the title, Kang is now considering withdrawing the motion, saying she “realize[d] that maybe there should be more discussion before moving forward.”
The idea to change the name began in August 2018, when Kang suggested adding an “IA” to the original acronym to include “intersex” and “asexual” identities.
After concerns that elongating the acronym would be “cumbersome,” UMSU community co-ordinator Mubo Ilelaboye then suggested the GSRD acronym.
Ilelaboye was appointed to the community co-ordinator position in 2017, after UMSU introduced structural changes to the functioning of community groups that included hiring one full-time co-ordinator to work with its four community groups, replacing the four part-time co-ordinator positions that previously worked with each individual group — including the Rainbow Pride Mosaic (RPM).
Kang looked into the term further and decided to bring the idea to the UMSU governance committee.
“When I researched the topic a bit more, what GSRD stands for, I thought it would be a better fit,” she said.
“Ultimately because it’s a more inclusive term.”
The GSRD acronym and variations of it are relatively new and are meant to propose a wider view of the LGBTTQ* community.
“As our awareness of different sexualities and different identities grow, we wanted to represent and include more of these marginalized groups,” Kang said.
“But then it becomes a question of ‘Well, who gets to have a letter in that initialism?’ If we decide to add more, and try to be more representative, it’s going to get longer and longer and it’s going to become like alphabet soup. But GSRD kind of equalizes everything. No one gets their own letter, but they’re all represented by an umbrella term.”
The acronym is not used by any other university in the province but was considered an “official community acronym” by Pride Winnipeg in 2018.
Kang originally put forward the idea to RPM in October, and said she encouraged members to voice their dissent or leave comments on the petition but felt she “didn’t get any engagement.”
Kang presented the petition to the UMSU governance committee when she proposed to change the acronym — however, she said she was surprised the governance committee had agreed to draw up the motion.
“I thought they were going to try to tell me to get more signatures,” she said.
“But apparently that was enough.”
Petitions are not typically required to bring possible motions to governance meetings, but the committee thought it was a good idea in this case, according to UMSU president Jakob Sanderson.
Kang added she felt there was not a lengthy response from the governance committee.
“When I went to the governance committee to explain my rationale behind this decision, it was more just a presentation without any Q-and-A afterwards. I just showed up, gave my rationale and then they said ‘OK, thank you,’” she said.
Governance meetings are usually closed, but Kang was invited to this particular one.
Kang said the signatures were “mostly RPM regulars” and said the petition “was mostly just passed around within the Rainbow Pride Mosaic” before it was submitted, something she now says was a mistake.
“On second thought, I’m starting to think maybe we should postpone [the motion] again and reach out to the LGBT community at large on campus and see what they think,” she said.
“Instead of just RPM.”
Kang said she hopes the motion will warrant discussion amongst the board of directors on Thursday.
“Some kind of discussion that made it clear that the board of directors had reflected on the gravity of the whole decision, and not just something they would nod ‘yes’ to and just move on,” she said.
Kang added the acronym could always be amended but said she did not know whether or not she would move to withdraw the motion Thursday. Should anyone move to pull the motion Thursday, it would go to a vote. Should the vote to table pass, the motion would be moved off of the schedule until further notice.
Kang said she regrets not seeking a more diverse group for the petition.
“I probably should have reached out to other groups to see their opinion regarding the change.”