Attendees were promised a $55 Skip the Dishes gift card, but only two people showed up.
The last of the consultation sessions on the University of Victoria’s rainbow crosswalk held by a third-party facilitator was held on Thursday. The crosswalk is fading and in need of a refresh, but the university says it wants to consult with its LGBT community before it gets a new coat of paint.
It hired a consultant for $24,000 to conduct the consultations.
The meeting was advertised to LGBT students and recent alumni as a queer, trans, BIPOC — Black, Indigenous, People of Colour — town hall.
Attendees were asked to give their thoughts on the crosswalk and to discuss the barriers facing LGBT students on campus.
Cleo Philp, director of campaigns and community relations with the University of Victoria Student’s Society, said she wasn’t surprised by the low attendance.
“It doesn’t seem well advertised to me, which isn’t the hallmark of a good consultation,” she said, adding that it was likely that the UVic Pride Collective had no idea the session even existed.
“The university should be focusing on tangibly maintaining the safety and inclusion of trans and queer people instead of painting the road in a super duper right way.”
A focus group on Tuesday for LGBT staff and faculty was previously cancelled due to low registration.
The university has said that the fading rainbow crosswalk will not be repainted until “fulsome consultation” has been conducted with LGBT students, staff and faculty.
“When the university makes decisions that impact a particular community, it is important that those affected have an opportunity to inform the decision making,” a UVic spokesperson said in a statement. “This work is important and equity is worth the investment.”
Hiring an external group ensures the resulting recommendations are impartial and helps to create “a sense of safety” for participants, the statement said. “This goes much deeper than paint.”
The crosswalk has been largely untouched since it was installed in 2015 and is now fading.
According to documents obtained by a freedom of information request by the Times Colonist, the third-party facilitator PeerNetBC was contracted by UVic for $24,000 to conduct consultations from Aug. 1, 2022, to Sept. 30, 2023.
In addition to working with UVic’s rainbow sidewalk steering committee, PeerNetBC would facilitate community consultations to a number of to-be-determined focus groups, according to a service agreement between PeerNetBC and UVic.
The organization is expected to deliver its final report and recommendations in early October, the university said.
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