Red River College has a new space for 2SLGBTQIA* students
By Gabrielle Piché
Mira NicBridhe doesn’t remember there being any accommodations for 2SLGBTQIA* students when she first attended Red River College.
That was over a decade ago. Now, a corner of the College’s Notre Dame Campus is painted in rainbow colours.
The space, called The Spectrum, is a safe area for 2SLGBTQIA* students to study and relax, according to the Red River College Students’ Association (RRCSA).
NicBridhe, 46, is a pansexual student in the college’s Educational Assistant program.
“I love The Spectrum,” NicBridhe said. “I’m really glad it’s there and that Red River is making an effort to be more inclusive, and I hope they continue.”
The Spectrum has couches, a TV, board games and a microwave – typical things found in a student lounge. However, it also has free condoms and hygiene products, and pamphlets on issues like HIV, safe sex, drugs, domestic violence and anxiety.
NicBridhe said she hasn’t felt unsafe at school, but she can’t speak for all students in the 2SLGBTQIA* community.
“I’m hoping they know The Spectrum is a place where they can come and feel at home and have people that are understanding and supportive,” NicBridhe said.
The Spectrum has an emergency alarm and a phone for users to call security if needed.
NicBridhe said she hasn’t seen many people in The Spectrum yet. Other student lounges or a lack of awareness might be why the new zone is so empty, she suggested.
Shay Eyer and Alexa Noga, Nursing students, said they’ve tried to get into The Spectrum a couple of times, but the door is usually locked.
“I feel like people can’t come in here if they want,” Eyer said.
The Spectrum should be open when the RRCSA is open – 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on regular weekdays. If the lounge’s door is locked, students can ask an RRCSA staff member to unlock it.
Students wanting to use the space after hours can make arrangements with the Students’ Association.
The Spectrum first opened in April, but its opening ceremony happened Oct. 3., which included a smudging ceremony and ribbon-cutting to celebrate the new space.
Carmen McIntosh, the RRCSA’s vice-president academic, met with organizers heading LGBTTQ* spaces at the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg before The Spectrum opened.
“It was a good way to find resources and things that students want,” McIntosh said. “[We’re] kind of piggybacking off their success.”
The Spectrum is primarily for 2SLGBTQIA* students, but allies of the community are welcome.