MARDI GRAS | WSU gets into party spirit

Get ready to party: Students Jumana Qazi and Ming Chen as well as senior lecturer Dr Tinashe Dune will take part in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. Picture: Simon Bennett

Get ready to party: Students Jumana Qazi and Ming Chen as well as senior lecturer Dr Tinashe Dune will take part in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. Picture: Simon Bennett

It’s might not be uni games, but students and lecturers from Western Sydney University will party just as hard come Saturday, March 4.

For the third consecutive year the university will take part in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade.

The brains behind the university’s involvement – senior lecturer in health and science, Dr Tinashe Dune – said interest from staff and students grew each year.

“2015 was the first year we participated,” Dr Dune said. “Someone jokingly suggested (we take part) but I said ‘yes’. So we formed a committee, hired a vehicle and made banners.”

That first year about 20 people signed up. The next year the full quota of 50 university participants was filled within a couple of hours.

This year, those on the committee aimed for 150 participants but were told to reduce that number to 100. Once again all positions were filled within just a couple of hours.

“We’ve also moved up the parade,” Dr Tinashe said. 

“We were near the end of the parade the first year but now we are near the middle with bigger organisations like Beyond Blue.

“When it (the university’s involvement) first started off I just thought it would be a little advocacy thing. I had no idea that people would be so interested.”

One of those “high level” university supporters is Vice-Chancellor Professor Barney Glover.

“As a vibrant and diverse intellectual community, Western Sydney University is proud to promote a culture that is inclusive of sexual and gender diversity,” Professor Glover said.

“This is a tangible way to support our staff, students and alumni from the LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Questioning) community and celebrate their valuable contribution to the university.”

One of the students involved in this year’s parade, 19-year-old Ming Chen – who will begin a four year occupational therapy degree in the coming weeks – said she had witnessed the hardships suffered by a gay friend.

“I have a friend who is gay and I saw his experiences and what he felt when he fell in love with someone who was the same sex,” she said.

“I want to help (LGBTIQ people) by helping others understand more and to convince them to not have nonobjective opinions about something they don’t know a lot about.”

Fellow Western Sydney University student Jumana Qazi said Mardi Gras was an opportunity for like-minded people to celebrate together.

“For me it’s important because it’s nice to be in an environment where it’s safe and where people can relate to each other,” the 17-year-old first year communications student said.

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