By Julieanne Acosta, January 3 2022—
The Q Centre at the University of Calgary is a place where the 2SLGBTQIA+ community can have a safe and comfortable place on campus to gather together. The centre on campus has a library and peer support, with coordinators and volunteers present to plan events and give out resources.
The Gauntlet had an opportunity to sit down with Ridham Madaan, coordinator for the Q Centre, to discuss the upcoming scholarship opportunities and the Q Centre’s plans for the upcoming year.
Madaan said that the connections the Q Centre makes for students in the queer community creates safe spaces on campus.
“We provide connections to resources within the community so that they know where to go,” said Madaan. “It’s a really big city — a really big university — sometimes you just don’t know where to go for your issues so anyone can start here and venture out.”
The Q Centre recently announced the Students’ Union (SU) Pride scholarship, totalling five $2,000 scholarships to be given out in the winter semester. This Quality Money project will give out these scholarships to undergraduate students who are actively dedicated to the queer community.
“You’re defending people’s identity — it’s a very big task to take on. This project understands that. We want to see people that are involved in the community and that have promoted its wellbeing,” said Madaan.
The SU Pride Scholarship applicants will be reviewed by Madaan herself, along with Assad Ali Bik, VP Student Life for the SU, two executives from Queers on Campus, two neutral students and Colson Buchanan, coordinator for volunteer services on campus.
“It feels like a full-time job. You’re constantly advocating for your own space, your friend’s space, another queer person’s space — you’re constantly justifying someone’s identity. I think that’s why [this scholarship] is so important. Identity is such an integral part,” said Madaan. “It can be exhausting when for every small win you have, there are 10 losses that you can look at. This scholarship shows that their contributions really do make a difference and people are recognizing it,”
The Q Centre focuses on educating the community on a variety of topics using discussion groups and guest speakers.
“We try to host events that would let the community feel like a community and on top of that give them an opportunity to learn more about the LGBTQA+ community,” said Madaan.
In addition to the scholarship and their events, the Q Centre does provide a Queer Mentorship Program that runs from November to April. The program is meant to empower the mentees and give them a relationship where they are free to ask questions regarding their own sexuality.
“We have queer mentors who are faculty members or alumni that are queer and have different jobs and are well integrated into the community. Then we have mentees that are usually undergraduate students,” said Madaan. “So we have them apply and match them. We provide basic guidelines to ensure everyone is safe and we let them go meet as many times as they like within the year but they do have a minimum quota of seven to eight hours throughout the program.”
Considering the COVID-19 restrictions, the Q Centre has remained closed for the Fall 2021 semester. However, the space is looking to reopen this upcoming term.
While there is no exact date set, the Q Centre will reopen in January and will have limited hours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and limited occupancy to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’re really trying to get that sense of community back because a lot of people are feeling the absence of it this year,” said Madaan.
The SU Pride Scholarship applications can be found on the SU’s page for the Q Centre and will close on Feb. 25, 2022 at 4 p.m.
For those looking to volunteer for the Q Centre, an application can be found as well on the SU’s page for the Q Centre.