After months of lobbying, queer students at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) are applauding a decision by the university’s administrators to fund their campus Pride Centre.
Krystal Vandenberg, who heads the student-run Pride Centre, calls the funding a “step in the right direction.”
Administrators announced plans to award the Pride Centre $10,000 per year for the next two years on April 6, 2016.
Although it’s only half the $20,000 annual budget students requested, Vandenberg says she hopes the funding will help stabilize the centre with the creation of a staff position at $17.50 an hour for 20 hours a week.
“The board and I are going to go through a budget and we’ll hopefully see if we can get a person in a staff position so we’ll have a consistent person in the centre once or twice a week,” she says.
Vandenberg says the group will explore ways to attract additional funding, as well. “We can apply for grants, and being able to have a staff person there to do that will be great since we had nothing before.”
She says she’s happy the centre has finally received needed funding.
“It means that the centre will be a stable resource,” she says. “It has been a six-year battle for me. I’m really excited.”
Barb Daigle, who sits on UNBC’s senior executive team, confirms the Pride Centre will receive $10,000 annually in seed money for the next two years.
“[The Pride Centre] will get a two-year commitment of funding and we will work with them to develop a sustainable funding model,” she says.
“We only have a one-time funding policy for these sorts of initiatives so it’s important that we help them develop a sustainable funding model,” she adds.
Daigle says there is a strong commitment from the senior executive team for initiatives like the Pride Centre, adding she was unaware of any earlier funding requests made by the group.
“We’re absolutely committed to the principles of diversity and to creating positive and productive working and learning environments,” she says.
Vandenberg says she hopes to have the staff position filled by September, when classes resume for the fall semester.
Details regarding the position and when the job will be posted will be discussed at the Pride Centre’s annual general meeting later this month.
The UNBC Pride Centre currently serves about 25 students.