Pride club struggles with leader turnover


Clubs have a tendency to wither and die following the graduation of their core members, a fate that the leaders of Davis Pride hope to avert.

“Leadership has always been a huge problem at Sheridan with all of the clubs,” said Luciana Belea, former president of Davis Pride. “Presidents change and things fall apart if no one new can be found.

Belea, 23, graduated from Social Service Work this year, barring her from continuing to manage the club. She was fortunate to find Dianagris Balakrishnan, a second-year Practical Nursing student to take up her role.

“The majority of programs are only a year or two years, so it’s hard to find someone to take over,” said Balakrishnan, 24. “I understand that these things are student-run, which they should be, but I think there should be a position for graduates to stick around and continue the club until they find someone to take over.”

“Alumni and ex-executives are allowed to come back and help make the passing of the torch easier, but they don’t allow us to actually serve as leaders,” said Belea. “If it wasn’t for Diana, there would be no club now.”

Davis Pride is currently Sheridan’s most prominent LGBTQ club. A second group is present at Hazel McCallion and a Gay-Straight Alliance was formed last year at Trafalgar.

The group at Davis was founded in 2012 and believes it is important for learning institutions to have a sealed-off room for students who identify as LGBTQ, a blanket term meaning lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.

“We wanted to have a place where students could come and just be themselves and talk about their day, or anything really, in a place that was safe and inclusive,” said Balakrishnan.

Her predecessor was more critical of the outside factors necessitating such gatherings.

“There is a lot of bullying going on at schools with the LGBTQ community,” said Belea. “Kids are mean, kids suck and there’s not enough education being done to promote acceptance.”

Belea believes that Sheridan needs to take more action to promote groups such as Davis Pride.

“If Sheridan wants to become a university, they need to have this in their curriculum,” she said. “They need to have positive spaces across all campuses and gender-neutral washrooms. This is the ultimate goal.”

Eight to 15 members typically attend club meetings, which they try to hold every week barring events such as midterms.

“Our meetings aren’t mandatory,” said Balakrishnan. “You don’t have to be there everyday. You bring what you like to the table and we go from there.”

The club hosted Davis’ first and only LGBTQ event in 2013, called Glitz and Glam. It featured performances by two drag queens, inspired by Toronto drag bar Crews and Tangos.

“We had a few problems at that event, mainly due to language barriers and a general fear of coming,” said Belea, “Less than 20 people came and most were from the club.”

Both Balakrishnan and Belea pointed to language and cultural differences as being obstacles in their mission to bring LGBTQ awareness to Davis.

“Language is definitely a big barrier,” said Balakrishnan. “A lot of things are different across cultures. Terminology is not the same. It’s hard to make some people understand a Western notion of what it means to be queer.”

Davis is the most culturally diverse Sheridan campus due to its sizable population of international students.

Balakrishnan also pointed out the lack of activity during the summer months contributing to club stagnation.

“Most programs only run from September to April,” she said. “In the summer it’s pretty dead. There’s no one on campus.”