Monday, 10 October 2016

Comment: The future looks inclusive - University College Cork (UCC) - Religion and Homosexuality Event



The UCC LGBT Staff Network was set up in 2007 and publicly launched by the University’s President in 2008.

The initiative actually came from the University’s Equality Officer – I lauded this as the essence of inclusiveness: being invited to join instead of pounding on the door demanding admittance.

I’d personally experienced this a quarter of a century earlier in 1980 when as a student I was elected President of the Students’ Union and we founded a student GaySoc. The then Governing Body refused us recognition – it wasn’t until 1989 that the student society achieved recognition. We felt the sense of exclusion very personally.

So, in 2007 when an e-mail was sent from HR to all staff inviting interest in founding the LGBT Staff Network, it felt all the more inclusive.

Those of us who were interested subsequently founded the network with the HR department’s support. Dr. Michael Murphy as University President went out of his way to be present at the launch. Some of the senior members of the Administration also attended – so we were pleased with this signal that it was being taken seriously.  There are photos from the day on our website.

Over the years since we’ve organised a variety of events. In 2009 we held a conference on LGBT workplace networks in UCC. We’ve arranged several literary readings – Emma Donoghue in 2011 and Jamie O’Connell in 2014. We hold regular coffee mornings and a meet and greet for new staff at the start of each academic year. We organised a book club for a number of years and we’ve taken part in Cork Pride and arranged summer outings.

In 2015 we played an active role in lobbying for same-sex marriage in the national referendum.  This year we’ve been actively involved through the University Equality Committee in joining GLEN’s Diversity Champions.  Recently we’ve liaised with our fellow networks in TCD and UCD with a view to strengthening links. We were really pleased that UCC achieved the Athena Swan Bronze Award.

We have an e-mail discussion list, which is the main indication of membership. The energy ebbs and flows and as it does, so do our levels of activity.  This year we’ve got a very energetic officer board – led by Dr. Laurence Davis as Chair - which is ensuring we’re more visible and active than ever.  The future looks bright – and inclusive!

Cathal Kerrigan, Assistant Librarian, UCC and Co-Founder of the UCC LGBT Staff Network.
The UCC LGBT Staff Network will present a discussion on Religion and Homosexuality on Monday, October 10, from 6 to 8pm, at the O’Rahilly Building (Room G27). Speakers will include Dr. Andrew Yip, Professor of Sociology, University of Nottingham; Dr Alana Vincent, Senior Lecturer in Jewish Studies, University of Chester; Dr Richard O'Leary of Changing Attitude Ireland and previously Queen’s University Belfast; and Dr. Amanullah De Sondy, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Islam, UCC (Chair). All welcome.