The National Societies Awards - which celebrate the best student societies across the UK - were held in Nottingham on Friday, and the Loughborough Students' Union LGBT+ Association scooped the 'Welfare and Inclusivity' award for their dedicated and thoughtful approach to helping create a welcoming learning environment for all students.
Some LGBT+ Association initiatives include an initial Meet-and-Greet session at the start of the academic year; this allows students to meet committee members, LGBT+ Network staff and fellow students, as well as to find out more about the LGBT+ Association and the various campaigns and events that will run throughout the year. This initial contact is followed up with regular socialising opportunities during term time in the form of a dedicated Weekly Coffee Meet-Up on campus, quiz nights, movie screenings, fancy dress parties etc.
At key points, the LGBT+ Association take the opportunity to highlight and raise awareness of certain issues such as Asexual Awareness Week last October - this culminated in an Asexuality Awareness Workshop which was open to all and allowed students to find out more about asexuality, debunk myths and ask questions, followed by a social evening with cake and refreshments. An Intersectionality Discussion Panel was run in March this year, facilitating discussions around the issues facing BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) LGBT+ students. The Association utilise various social media channels to raise awareness of events including Transgender Awareness Month, Trans Day of Remembrance and World AIDS Day. Events are also run at the various University of Loughborough Halls of Residence during their Welfare and Diversity Week - for example in Cayley Hall, students had a week-long programme of activities that ended in a water fight in aid of LGBT+ rights charity Stonewall:
Most recently, the LGBT+ Association ran their De-stresstival event which was organised to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on May 17th. This day marks the day in 1990 when the World Health Organisation removed ‘homosexuality’ from its list of mental disorders - Welfare and Diversity Executive Officer, Nuzhat Fatima, explains that this day has become "an annual landmark for the University to celebrate how far the LGBT+ community has already come, but also to raise awareness of the ongoing struggles that the community face worldwide." On this occasion, the campus was decorated throughout with LGBT+ flags, and stalls were laid on from the LGBT+ Association and various mental health charities. More generally, a wide range of events and activities were also organised for students to create a fun, inclusive and social experience, including a petting zoo, face painting, mehndi, sumo suit wrestling, outdoor Zumba, giant board games such as Jenga, Connect 4 and table tennis, a lucky dip with prizes, live musical performances, and refreshments and snacks.
The Student Harassment and Sexual Assault Instrument of the ProtectED Code of Practice requires members to have a formal, written policy in place to promote equality and diversity at their institution. This includes sending a zero-tolerance message regarding all forms of harassment and sexual abuse, and engaging in awareness-raising initiatives to help promote a more inclusive and understanding campus to allow all students to flourish.