On March 9, the Queer Student Union (QSU) Queer Bash Planning Subcommittee convened to discuss potential changes to the biannual dance. Going forward, there will be a number of adjustments made to create a fun but also respectful atmosphere.
At future Queer Bash events, Campus Safety and Security officers and hosts will be trained to deal with specific concerns related to Queer Bash, such as the traditionally limited amount of clothing worn by students. Unlike in past years, there will be a $1 entrance fee to the event. Although the QSU will still project images of erotica on the walls, they will no longer play pornographic videos during the dance. In addition, for the first time, there will be a costume contest with prizes to encourage students to wear creative costumes that are related to the event’s theme.
The main reason for the reassessment of Queer Bash protocol was the misinterpretation of the purpose of Queer Bash, which is to promote the acceptance of the spectrum of gender expressions and sexualities. The planning committee has discussed possible reforms that would address concerns that arose following the fall 2009 Queer Bash. “My concern is that we have some of our community members reporting increased homophobic remarks and sexual assault after fall Queer Bash every year,” said Queer Life Coordinator Justin Adkins. “This is exactly what Queer Bash is supposed to stand against.”
“Queer Bash is an awesome party that the QSU throws,” Adkins continued. “It has become such a big deal that a large percentage of campus attends at some point in their Williams College career.” Adkins added that allowing students to branch out is a good thing, as long as the limits lie with negatively affecting others. “Pushing envelopes is great, if in doing so you are respectful of others.”
Students who attended the meeting to discuss the changes were primarily members of the QSU who voiced concern over drastic changes and advocated for what they would like to see preserved in future Queer Bashes.
Veronica Rabelo ’11, QSU social director, said that the QSU discussed “the discrepancy between how the QSU thinks of [Queer Bash] and what the campus thinks of it.” Rabelo said that while the QSU thinks of the dance as a means to create “a safe space for all types of gender expression,” a large portion of students incorrectly see it as “an everything-goes sex party where normal standards, like respect, go out the window.”