OUT@AUT is AUT’s social group for rainbow students. Debate sat down with the group’s president, Jess Rayner, to find out more about it.
What is the main thing that Out@AUT offers students?
I think we just want to offer a feeling of connection and support. Especially because university is hard and being a queer person at university is really really hard. We want to let other queer or gender non-conforming individuals know that they’re doing a good job and that there are other people like them.
What inspired you to go for the president position?
Honestly it wasn’t my idea. Last year’s president said I’d make a good one myself. Once I spoke to them and they said I’d do alright I realised how important it is to advocate for people who are unable to use their voices.
What can students do to make queer students feel that they belong?
I would just say really basic things. Treat us normal. Stop with the homophobic language or looks. Respect us as individuals. You might not agree with the Rainbow community, for religious or personal reasons and that’s fine. But please, respect us regardless. If it’s not you in a same-sex relationship then it’s not really your business, is it?
What’s the best thing about being the prez?
There are so many cool things about it. It’s a really challenging role. I have a great team of execs that I work with. Along with the execs we’re able to sculpt what we want the year to look like. Changes are happening and we’re able to help facilitate in these changes and that’s really exciting. It’s great being able to give students a voice.
What does Out@AUT have planned for 2019?
I don’t know if I should be saying… There’s a really cool event that is in its discussion stages. It’s going to be really big, extravagant and very queer. That’s all I’m going to say. It’s exciting, so keep an eye out.