Students may have plenty of questions about identifying as LGBTQ+ at Arts University Bournemouth. AUBSU’s LGBTQ+ officer Robyn Hill has the answers…
Arriving at university for the first time can be daunting. This may be the first time you’ve lived away from home and you might not have your usual support network close by, to lean on for moral support. Add something like being LGBTQ+ on top of all that, and these life adjustments can seem even more difficult.
But we have good news for LGBTQ+ students who join AUB, as we already have a very supportive community in place. Robyn Hill (she/her), one of the Student Union LGBTQ+ officers, gives an overview on the sort of thing new students can expect.
“The LGBTQ+ network puts on lots of great events throughout the year, particularly in February for History Month and June for Pride Month. It’s very easy to sign up, so come and say hello to us at Freshers. Add ‘LGBTQ+ network’ to your interests on the checklist, or contact us via Instagram, on our Facebook page, or email the AUBSU to be added to the mailing list, so you don’t miss any info.
“Some great past events we’ve had, and that we hope to continue, include an LGBTQ+ book club, quiz nights, drink and draw, open mics, and lots more.”
A sociable community is great for making the first steps into life at AUB a lot less scary and to help make friends. But at the same time, some LGBTQ+ students may be facing issues relating to their sexuality and identity, regardless of whether they are open. And so Robyn outlines the support that the LGBTQ+ network offers.
“We have two student execs who are there to support students no matter what point they’re at in their journey; we understand that it’s completely different for everyone. These execs work closely with the AUBSU to provide support, resolve or bring up any issues any students may have, and to generally make sure the university’s doing everything it can to make it a safe and welcoming space for all LGBTQ+ students.”
But if students don’t feel comfortable approaching the AUBSU directly, or reaching out to this year’s LGBTQ+ execs Robyn (she/her) and Leilani (she/they/he), what other avenues are available for them to discuss their issues?
“If students feel closer to others on their course, like their course reps, that could be a route to go down. The reps can contact the execs and the AUBSU on their behalf,” Robyn explains.
“The execs also have Instagram, Facebook, Discord, and email so there are lots of ways to find them and reach out.
Finally, we wanted to know what the AUB LGBTQ+ network’s main message is for new students.
“We’re here for you,” says Robyn. “Coming to uni can be overwhelming and adding being LGBTQ+ into that mix can make it even more challenging. But the LGBTQ+ network is a safe space for everyone. We try very hard to put on great events, help freshers make friends early on in calm LGBTQ+ socials, and provide a range of spaces for students to be themselves and have the best time possible.”
Robyn also said that 95% of voters in a recent Instagram poll said their experience with the AUB LGBTQ+ network was positive. Furthermore, the most recent Student Perception Survey confirmed that 93% of students who identified as gay or lesbian were satisfied with their experience at AUB overall. The same was said by 77% students identifying as bisexual, and 81% of those who identified as ‘Other’.
Of course, the LGBTQ+ network and, by extension, AUB as a whole, not only provides a space for diverse sexual identity, but also diverse gender identity. Senior Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) Officer Abigail Weekes (she/her/they) explains what makes the university so appealing to these students:
“AUB is a vibrant, diverse, and inclusive community which celebrates diverse talent and thought and supports people to be their authentic selves. The university is committed to providing an environment where everyone feels included, no matter their background or the way they choose to identify.
“Further education and understanding of differing gender identities is an area that AUB are committed to, and we have recently rolled out a suite of staff EDI training including ‘An Introduction to Gender Identity’ and further ‘Trans Awareness’ training is coming up after Christmas to enable further staff education in this area.”
In the Student Perception Survey, 73% of students identifying as trans confirmed overall satisfaction with their AUB experience, as did 86% of students who identify ‘In Another Way’.
Think you might like to be part of the LGBTQ+ network? Take the first step towards joining.