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David Ciccoricco Rachel Shaw image

David Ciccoricco, Head of English and Linguistics, and Rachel Shaw of OUSA Queer Support developed customised training to certify staff as part of the Queer Friendly Staff Network.

Otago’s English and Linguistics Programme has become the first academic unit at the University to have its entire staff certified as part of the Queer Friendly Staff Network.

Head of English and Linguistics, Associate Professor David Ciccoricco collaborated with Rachel Shaw of OUSA Queer Support to develop customised two-day training that tailored material for their discipline.

The first day focused on the range of OUSA queer support services and gave staff a sense of the kinds of experiences and challenges the University’s rainbow community encounter. The second day was structured as a panel led by poet Emer Lyons, who was joined by Dr Tessa Romano of the School of Performing Arts and postgraduate game studies scholar Jacob Cone.

David says that after he attended the standard OUSA trainings in 2018, he saw an opportunity to bring to bear many of the concepts and frameworks that are at the heart of his discipline.

“There’s an intimate connection between the literary arts and fundamental questions involving language, identity, and mutual understanding,” David says, “And clearly the humanities as a whole are in a strategically privileged position to make a positive difference in this domain.”

David pitched the idea to OUSA and ran the first customised training session in 2022, with additional staff completing the training in February 2024.

Rachel says developing and delivering an immersive bespoke training was "an exciting undertaking”.

“Empowering staff to feel confident in understanding and supporting rainbow students is integral to creating a truly inclusive environment at Otago.”

Both David and Rachel note that their model could be easily adapted to other academic units, and they are more than happy to support those interested.

Please send enquiries about workshops to:

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