Hunter Ross and Marcos Tawfik, the co-presidents of Brock Pride, helped plan Pride Week festivities such as a lecture about the history of Pride and the upcoming drag show.
For Ross, a third year student in Child and Youth Studies and Women and Gender Studies, this Pride Week has been her first as one of the presidents of Brock Pride. Tawfik, a fourth year Psychology student, has served on the executive team for three years.
Despite their titles, Ross and Tawfik stress that Brock Pride’s executive team is just that — a team.
“We’re all on a level playing field and we all put in the care and the effort and the work to make sure that this club is something that people want to come to. This is some place that people feel safe and that takes a team effort,” said Tawfik.
Traditionally, Pride Week serves as one last large-scale celebration for the club, with little following it, but this year the executives still have general meetings planned closer to the exam period at which members can study for a portion of the meeting. The team has been working with Positive Living Niagara to arrange for on-site STI testing for members with an informational session on safe sex.
“This will be my last year on the executive” said Tawfik. “Which is bittersweet. Actually, it’s more bitter than sweet.”
Tawfik will be focusing on his studies as he plans to graduate after next year, but intends to get involved with the club when he can find free time.
Ross is slated to return as co-president, working alongside Abigail Norton, who has been a member of the executive team this year.
Historically, Brock Pride has had one president, but that was expanded to two in recent years.
“I feel like the focus that is needed for the community, especially on campus, there needed to be more structure, representation and ability to focus, which one person could be very stressed by,” said Tawfik. “Creating the positions of co-presidents allows two perspectives to come into play and to really mesh well together when discussing different points, like how we’re going to provide a safe space for our members and how we’re going to provide fantastic events for them to attend and always remember them in the future.”
Despite different backgrounds and becoming involved at different times in their undergraduate careers, Tawfik and Ross found something similar at Brock Pride — the support of a community.
“When I started attending [Brock Pride] it was where I found acceptance and comfort in a way that I needed at the time and I didn’t expect to find,” said Tawfik. “That was a huge supportive aspect of my first year here and in building my passion towards community-based interaction and finding how I can apply myself the best I can to help as much as I can.”
Ross came upon Brock Pride when a friend recommended the club to her in the midst of a rough point in her life.
“I fell in love with the group and what it had to provide people. I became really good friends with a lot of the executive team and the members, and I decided to try it out and see what it’s like to actually take on the job,” said Ross.
According to Ross, Brock Pride has rapidly become a significant part of her life since that first moment.
“I really like to put out there to people that it’s a good safe space where no one’s going to judge you. If you don’t even want to talk during the meetings, it’s a place where you know that if you do, someone’s going to listen to you,” said Ross. “Maybe you feel that you’re different in just a little bit of an aspect. This is a place where you can be different. You can be who you want to be.”