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Diversity about Compassion and Understanding

Diversity about Compassion and Understanding

Raising awareness of diversity on campus is the central theme of this week’s OUSA Diversity Week at the University of Otago. The week features a range of events that includes everything from panel discussions through to a bondage workshop for beginners.

“Universities are some of the most diverse places in society, it’s a place where people often come to terms with their identities and learn about the identities of their peers.” Said Neill Ballantyne, OUSA Queer Support Coordinator. “This week is about raising awareness of just how diverse the people of the University are in the hopes of showing that diversity is important and valuable!”

The week’s events have been based on information gathered in Mr. Ballantyne’s research into Diversity issues on campus. From which one statement stood out as an example of why there is a need for Diversity Week:

“As in most cities in New Zealand, there are both those who are accepting and those who are not.

While more and more people are becoming more accepting of diversity, there is still an underlying culture of negativity towards queer people. This often arises from a lack of compassion and understanding. We need to continue to educate people to understand others and accept everyone for who they are.” – Unnamed survey respondent.

“The research has enabled OUSA to base its events on hard evidence of what students are struggling with on an everyday basis.” Said Ballantyne. “There are parts of the student population who are discriminated against daily in a number of ways, this week is about promoting that we’re all different in many different ways and that’s OK.”

A highlight of the week would be the Monday evening event focusing on life after the passing of the Marriage Equality Bill says Ballantyne, “It’s going to be great to hear about how New Zealand has changed in the eyes of those most affected by the law change.”

All events during the week are free or at a very low cost in an effort to ensure students can get along and be a part of the discussions.


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