Representing LGBT+ people on campus
We talk to Students' Association LGBT+ Officer, Natasha Ion (a French and History student), about fostering a vibrant queer community.
Natasha Ion is one of two students in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) to be voted in as Students' Association Liberation Officers for 2018/19.
Along with Isabella Neergaard-Petersen (Scandinavian Studies and Classics), this year’s Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) Officer, Natasha took up the post of LGBT+ Officer in September this year.
LLC is one of the largest Schools in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, and is proud of its diversity, both in the range of subjects it teaches, and in bringing together a truly international community of students, alumni and staff.
In this interview, Natasha talks to Róisín MacFarlane (Web, Communications and Social Media Intern, and current LLC student) about what the LGBT+ Officer does, what inspired her to run for election, her plans for the role, and how her degree programme (which is jointly taught by LLC and the School of History, Classics and Archaeology) has influenced her.
'Fostering a vibrant queer community on campus'
"My role is essentially about the representation of LGBT+ people on campus", says Natasha, reflecting on the aim of the LGBT+ Officer position, "and it involves organising campaigns and events to improve the lives of LGBT+ people on campus, and making sure that I work with the other Liberation campaigns to create intersectional events and campaigns."
"I ran for the role because I am a passionate supporter of LGBT+ rights and I've done some campaigning and events organising on campus in the past, and I thought it would be nice to bring that aspect of it to the events that I organise."
"My main aim for the role is to foster a vibrant queer community on campus and I have a few specific priorities that I would like to achieve. One of those is to improve mental health services for LGBT+ people on campus by improving staff training and teaching staff training."
"Secondly I want to foster links with smaller LGBT+ groups on campus, for example LGBT+ medics - especially the groups on other campuses and not on central. I also want to continue to create lots of queer events for people to go to on campus, and create a queer arts collective to help achieve that."
'Opening your mind up to other aspects of the world'
Natasha believes her French studies within the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) influenced her decision to run for the position.
"I think the whole thing of a languages degree - which is what I do - is about opening yourself and your mind up to other aspects of the world that you hadn't really thought of before, and that's kind of one of the points of the LGBT+ Liberation role."
"Part of it is to do with visibility, increasing LGBT+ visibility, and it's just that coming together of lots of different people to create a coherent community."
Our staff's perspective
For Celeste Marie-Bernier, Professor of Black Studies, Personal Chair in English Literature, and Director of People and Equalities in LLC, the elections of Natasha and Isabella are hugely welcome.
"The commitment of our inspirational students to an inclusive learning community is not only felt very strongly, but is at the very heart of our School, so it’s fantastic that - of the four brilliant people spearheading the Students’ Association’s Liberation Campaigns this year - two study with us. We're so incredibly lucky!"
"Through People and Equalities initiatives, and the award-winning work of wonderful staff like Katherine Inglis (recent recipient of a Students’ Association Inclusive Learning and Teaching Award - a stellar achievement!), we are not only extremely keen but incredibly honoured and privileged to work with our brilliant learners to make LLC the most supportive environment it possibly can be."
She echoes the thoughts of colleagues throughout the School when she says "Thank you all so, so much!"
Are you interested in studying languages at LLC?
We offer one of the widest range of languages of any UK university, including all six official languages of the United Nations, and eight of the languages of the European Union. We also offer an extensive range of joint degrees, for example, two languages, or a language with Business, International Business, Social Policy, Politics and more.