Not pictured: Estefan Cortes-Vargas

How the Edwards Queer Students Society is Changing the Edwards Community

The Edwards Thrive committee sat down with Harleen Arora, Taylor Keller, Estefan Cortes-Vargas and Daryl Malana, some of the founding members of the Edwards Queer Students Society (EQSS), to discuss the formation of this new organization and the goals within it.

What sparked the creation of the EQSS?

Taylor (they/them): I was tapped on the shoulder by Chris, our head who isn't present here, but he kind of sparked the whole thing. He sent me a message and asked, “why don't we have a queer club?” I said, “well, nobody's made one yet.” He said, “let's change that.” Sure enough, we got the four of us together and started planning what the club would look like, what kind of events we would host and the overall environment we wanted to create. We focused a lot on making a safe space where people could just pop in without having a huge commitment. We hoped to provide a place where people could share themselves, feel heard and be respected.


What is the mission of the EQSS in Edwards and in the community in general?

Harleen (she/they): Our mission is to nurture the Edwards School of Business as a welcoming and safe environment where 2SLGBTQIA+ students, staff and faculty can live their authentic lives. We aim to celebrate and uplift 2SLGBTQIA+ students through intentional and meaningful engagement. Our vision was to have a strong community within Edwards where we can address the diverse needs of 2SLGBTQIA+ business students.

Estfan (he/they): I would add that the first few meetings that I had with everyone, one of the things that kept being said was “queering the space of underrepresented business environments.” It's that presence piece and I think the initial part of the vision was defining a presence that is more diverse.


Where would you like to see this organization in five years?

Daryl (he/they): I envision being a liaison for young queer professionals and in business or entrepreneurship. So when, for example, they're doing Co-op programs, we can help the Edward School of Business ensure that the workplaces that people are going into are safe for queer people, accepting of queer people, and help queer people not only flourish as professionals, but personally as well. Being also a sort of community center, because a lot of spaces that queer people create are centered around being a community and being focused on how we can empower each other.

Harleen (she/they): We also envisioned ourselves doing advocacy within the college to make sure that there is change happening systemically. We hope we could look at revising the curriculum and having more services for 2SLGBTQIA+ students. They may not be things that we can necessarily provide, but the college can, so we want to make sure that we are advocating for the needs of 2SLGBTQIA+ students.


Are there any resources that you recommend for students who are a part of, or interested in the 2SLGBTQ+ plus community?

Daryl (he/they): OUTSaskatoon has a list called the “Q list” where you can find queer related resources as well as queer safe spaces. We tried to recreate that here within our own club. We have that up and almost running.

Harleen (she/they): We're hoping to release a resource list like that. The work was done by Keira Prior who was our Social Support Director. We're looking at releasing that in the next little while here, and we're hoping to update it each term. Another good resource is the USask Pride Center on campus.


How can people get involved in the EQSS?

Harleen (she/they): We have a general member system going year-round. Anyone can apply as long as you're an Edwards student. That means you get to attend our biweekly meetings and stay in touch with everyone on our slack group. That's one way everyone can stay connected. We recruit for executive positions usually at the end of a term.

How can the Edwards community practice active allyship in their daily lives?

Daryl (he/they): Using They/Them pronouns in cases and PowerPoints. Often, professors put he/she or something like that in variety when they can simply solve that by just using they/them pronouns.

Taylor Keller (they/them): Lots of it does just come down to education and being conscious. And there are so many resources out there. Every week we're reposting things to our Instagram story. We started out with different terms and getting used to the vocabulary used in the community. Lots of it is making sure that you yourself are educated. Nobody must be a member to show up for events, everyone is welcome


It is important that the Edwards community takes time to educate themselves and reflect on the history of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Make sure to check out the EQSS on Instagram @edwardsqueers.

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