“We are activists equipped and determined to fight for the right of every student, especially those of marginalised groups.”
Phương Anh ”Crystal” Nguyễn and Suthish Rathakrishnan are speaking on their new roles as the Curtin Student Guild’s Queer Officers.
Nguyễn, a second year Mass Communications student, and Suthish Rathakrishnan, a second year Journalism and Anthropology student, are passionate about tackling inequality in education and university life.
The pair are both members of the Illuminate party and were elected unopposed, along with Guild president Liam O’Neill.
“We aim to make the department more accessible for new-to-Curtin students and cooperate events in collaboration with other equity departments,” said Nguyễn.
Equity departments provide services to Curtin’s diverse student population and they can all be found in the Guild’s Equity Space in Building 106F.
Rathakrishnan said he was excited to see how they could influence queer issues by working with the four other equity departments: Woman’s Department, Students with Disabilities, International Student Committee and the Indigenous Department.
Collaboration is especially important to Nguyễn, as she lives with a condition that causes her to have brittle bones.
“Being a queer person of colour with disabilities, I can only speak for myself, but it is natural to gravitate towards fighting for our rights as students and dreamers,” she said.
Queer officers must nominate as a pair, and one of the candidates must not identify as a male.
This was due to the Guild’s desire to reflect the diversity of the queer community, as it was suggested it was dominated by cis gay-men.
O’Neill said the Guild’s Council fixed the number of officers to no-less-than two, due to the large workload undertaken by the Queer Officers compared to other departments.
This was on the advice of the 2016 Queer Officers, but this ruling is due to be changed again.
“This is due to concerns around the inequity of resourcing the queer department more than the other equity departments, and the workload and work completed by the queer officers is being more closely examined,” O’Neill said.
This statute will not be effective until the next Guild Elections, and draft transitional provisions guarantee Nguyễn and Rathakrishnan their up-coming term.
Nguyễn said in order to tackle the demands of the Queer Officer position, the two officers needed to work together to establish a system that maximises on each other’s strengths.
Rathakrishnan said one of Illuminate’s top policies was being equitable.
“Illuminate supports LGBTQI+ issues and prioritises the education and welfare of Queer students by providing opportunities for us to participate in society on an equal basis,” he said.
“We have recently have undertaken affirmative action in campaigning for marriage equality by having a booth open for students who are eligible to enroll for the postal vote [on marriage equality].
“Depending on where we as a nation stand when [Nguyễn] and I actually become acting Queer Officers, we will either celebrate the fact that we can get married to whomever we want or we will continue to work to have our voices heard on this issue.”