UP has various societies and spaces put in place to ensure that all students, regardless of their gender, sexuality, race etc., are represented. PDBY interviewed BOLD special committee, Tuks UP&OUT and SpeakOUT UP.
BOLD Society: BOLD is a committee that brings together students with disabilities, advocates for their rights and embark[s] on awareness campaigns to combat negative and harmful misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding persons with disabilities at higher institutions of learning.
SpeakOUT UP: #SpeakOutUP is an organisation that is supported by the Transformation Office and the Centre for Sexualities AIDS and Gender (CSA&G) at UP. It aims to assist students and staff who have experienced Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) and all forms of discrimination. It consists of volunteers who are first responders who provide peer counselling to students. #SpeakOutUP is also active on Instagram (and hosts an online series, “In conversation with #SpeakOutUP”, with various stakeholders to engage meaningfully about different societal issues. We also have activations, where we inform students about our organisation and the services we provide.
Tuks UP&OUT: UP&OUT is dedicated to creating a free and equitable environment for queer students at the university. To achieve this goal we actively work towards making sure safe spaces are available for students to express their identity freely and without prejudice. We host regular events and activities, which students are welcome to join regardless of their sex, gender, sexual orientation or race. Most importantly, UP&OUT is not just a campus society, but a home for courageous people who continue to show resilience in the face of adversity.
BOLD Society: Students can join BOLD by filling this form https://docs.google.com/foorms/d/1Nse QZYnloroxbBHDJF7loiqfgPfQMg9zmtf6XGxNU WE/edit?usp=drivesdk or by joining the following WhatsApp group https://chat.whatsapp.com/ LPnLcmIE7TD71N8Ez1jyNh.
SpeakOUT UP: First years can be part of #SpeakOutUP by signing up for the volunteer cohort and then attending our peer counselling training. They also need to be certain that they are willing and available to engage in the work that we do as #SpeakOutUP. Anyone looking to get involved with #SpeakOutUP can email us at speakoutup@gmail. com or contact us through our Instagram account @speakout_up.
Tuks UP&OUT: First years can be a part of UP&OUT by signing up as a member of the society. They can also join us weekly at LGBTalks where we meet, connect as a community, and foster companionship. Those interested in joining UP&OUT can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter at @tuks_upandout where we post details about our upcoming events and activities, and where they can find any updates about how to join the society.
BOLD Society: Representation to BOLD is when diverse individuals relate to, feel that they are being understood, see a part of themselves in other people who are in the same environments as them, and who occupy positions of power and influence.
SpeakOUT UP: Representation means advocating for change within our university space. It is the ability to have an inclusive environment accepting of everyone regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and religion. It is about creating a safe space in which everyone can be free to voice out their concerns, ideas and express themselves without prejudice or discrimination.
Tuks UP&OUT: Representation to us means visibility. It involves the acknowledgment of our identities as a uniquely valid component of a diverse social fabric – being loud and proud of who we are. While queerness and gender diversity are somewhat being reflected in 21st-century media, we view representation as a daily, consistent effort in the South African community. In our efforts, UP&OUT strives to be a force of change that combats discrimination and mistreatment on the basis of sexuality and gender. But representation involves more than just fighting biases – it also brings about a thriving sense of community of incredible people. To those who have experienced being ‘Othered’ in one form or another: the importance of representation at UP&OUT ensures that your voice will be heard, valued, and respected.
BOLD Society: We have embarked on different awareness campaigns for the past three years -from our annual casual campaign, panels of discussion with the SRC, the transformation department, the library services, and other departments of UP about a range of topics. We have also had events where we partnered with TEDxUP, Law House and other organisations under student development about different topics ranging from discrimination to sports with people with disabilities. Our members have also participated in research carried out by other postgrad students with regards to the wellbeing of students with disabilities at UP. We have embarked on many other smaller social events with our members and can’t wait to continue doing the same and more this year now that we are a special committee.
SpeakOUT UP: “In Conversations with #SpeakOutUP” with various guests speaking about different issues. This forms part of our monthly webinars.
- Providing counselling training to #SpeakOutUP volunteers.
- Collaboration with BOLD in their initiative of selling casual stickers.
- Sexual Assault Awareness Week (#SAAW) • Activation for men’s month and the Men’s Round Table Talk
- Awareness campaign for Mental health and Disability Month
- Anti-discrimination Week
- Voting campaign during elections and informing students on how to vote for the SRC and the importance of participating in elections
- Ladies’ night to create a safe space for women by women.
Tuks UP&OUT: Aside from our weekly queer- focused talks we also regularly collaborate with other Tuks societies to bring our members engaging experiences and increase our visibility. In 2021 UP&OUT partnered with the Hindu Students Society, the UP Debate Society, and Tuks SAUJS. Events that we’ve hosted include movie nights, capture the pride flag, panel discussions about contentious issues in the queer community, and Queer Prom. UP&OUT occasionally collaborates with other queer advocacy organisations (like the GALA Archive) to increase our impact within the community as a whole. ‘Mundane’ is not a word in our vocabulary and UP&OUT strives to always bring something new, innovative, and a little eccentric to its members every year.
BOLD Society: To increase awareness of the committee, build a community of students with disabilities at UP, and partner with different groups who represent students at UP and other universities.
SpeakOUT UP: SpeakOutUP’s vision for 2022 is to get as many people to be a part of these very important conversations in society and make a difference by creating safe spaces for people from different walks of life; so that they can speak on their lived experiences and contribute to the conversations that we need to have. We also seek to make a lasting impact on people’s lives through our programmes and through peer counselling.
Tuks UP&OUT: Our vision for 2022 is to increase the visibility of UP&OUT and queer voices at UP . UP&OUT continues to be dedicated to creating a free, and equitable environment for the queer community, as well as creating safe spaces for students to express and feel comfortable with themselves and their identity. We would further like to focus on drawing awareness to the execution of the UP Trans Protocol which can be found on our website. In 2022, we would also like to provide students with solidarity against adversity, acceptance of their differences, and a community of unwavering support.