New diversity champion at UQ

The commitment to a culture of diversity, inclusion, respect and acceptance at The University of Queensland has a new champion.

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Executive Dean Professor Heather Zwicker has joined UQ’s Ally Network as an Executive Champion in 2020.

The network is a group of well-informed staff who advocate, develop and maintain an inclusive environment for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, and queer (LGBTIAQ+).

“Having an Ally Network is important because it tells LGBTQIA+ staff and students at UQ that they are welcome here,” Professor Zwicker said.

“It says we recognise that gender identities are complex and fluid, and sometimes under threat.

“It says we know that sexuality, relationships, families and convictions can pull in opposite directions – and it says we’re here for you, while you sort that through.

“Perhaps most importantly, having an Ally Network says that no matter who you are, you are precious to this campus community.”

As executive champion Professor Zwicker is looking forward to being able to give back to the queer community.

“I wouldn’t be the person I am without my partner of 24 years, or the lesbian, gay, queer and trans people who are so central to our shared life,” she said.

“We have marched together, danced together, grieved together and celebrated many victories together.

“Being an Executive Champion gives me an opportunity to help other people live with more joy and less heartbreak.”

Professor Zwicker said she would focus on diverse and intersectional allyship.

“I truly believe that diversity is our strength,” she said.

“Understanding and welcoming a wide expression of gender and sexual identities is a really important goal – and my aspiration for the Ally Network would go even farther.

“I would like to see us approach LBGTQIA+ issues in an intersectional way – that while we create a supportive environment for gender and sexual diversity, we also address exclusions within our communities.

“A truly diverse LBGTQIA+ community would also understand how racism works, how social class can influence the experience and the perception of gender, how misogyny can still, sadly, divide us.

“Essentially, it’s about learning from one another – which is what a university is all about.”

Professor Zwicker joins UQ’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) Professor Doune Macdonald, who became a champion in 2018.

You can learn more about the UQ Ally Network and view the full list of UQ allies via the website.

For support, information or advice, students are encouraged to the UQ Ally Network.

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