Students re-establish Queer & Allied Activism
College students Myatt, Lewis lead effort
Queer & Allied Activism was re-established at the University Tuesday evening. More than 20 individuals — including two University staff members — convened in the University’s LGBTQ Center for the first meeting since the activist organization dissolved last spring.
Leading the restoration of QUAA are third-year College student Greg Lewis and second-year College student Carrie Myatt.
“What we think will help establish QUAA again as a really positive, forward-thinking, active organization is to rewrite the constitution and to put safeguards into it that ensure that we are getting the popular opinion,” Lewis said.
QUAA registered as a contracted independent organization at the University in 2005, and collaborated with organizations like the Living Wage Campaign and co-sponsored the Rally to End Hate Crimes, Lewis and Myatt said. But by last spring, general membership had significantly declined.
QUAA disbanded due to “a lack of a central goal,” said third-year College student Blake Calhoun, co-president of the Queer Student Union. Calhoun joined QUAA in 2011.
“There is not enough activism,” she said. “What you don’t hear at U.Va., really from many cultural groups — because our voices tend to get muted a lot just from outside people, despite our efforts — is that U.Va. is doing [specific things] wrong.”
Lewis and Myatt echoed these concerns about activism at the University.
“I think activism gets a bad rep at U.Va.,” Lewis said. “People don’t see activism as something they can access, that’s applicable to them or that directly affects them, which I think is a problem because any oppression here at the University is interconnected, and I think that’s something that we can build through QUAA.”
The QUAA constitution currently defines the organization as a vehicle for “tactics of direct action, education about queer issues and political lobbying.”
Myatt and Lewis have initiated an overhaul of the organization at the discretion of its members. Though activism will continue to be the group’s main objective, a new constitution will be written on March 4, allowing members to more fully inform the thoughts and sentiments expressed by the organization.
Meetings will be open to any and all individuals.
“I don’t think it’s only for queer people,” Myatt said. “I don’t think it’s only for people who care a lot about queer rights. I think it’s for anyone who cares about fighting inequality and oppression and anyone who cares at all about social justice.”
QUAA will meet Tuesdays at 9 p.m. in the LGBTQ Center.