My name is Rachel an I am one of the workers at the Charlotte Museum, but I am also an anatomy and genetics student at Otago University in Dunedin.
Every semester, the OUSA (Otago University Students Association) runs the Queerest Tea Party on campus, a celebration of diversity and friendship… and TEA!
The Tea Party ran on the 23rd August in the Main Common Room and included live performances from the Otago Dance Association Performance troop, Sacrilege productions, and a cupcake decorating contest, all coordinated by MC Andrew Wolff.
With unlimited tea, coffee, juice, cookies, slices and other snacks, the Tea Party offers a unique atmosphere to sit and chat and have fun with your friends, amid a day of lectures.
A few friends and myself attended between lectures of enzymes and the cardiovascular system, sitting down amid banners and dancers for a cup of tea and a biscuit.
Ribbons were been given, designed in the flags of the different pride groups, such as homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, pansexual, transgender and many more.
Stickers were also given out, encouraging students to embrace diversity and declaring Equality for all. These stickers are now stuck to the wall in my dorm room, adding nicely to the decor.
Aside from the free tea, cookies, badges and stickers, there was just this amazing atmosphere of students coming together as one to celebrate equality. The tea party only went for a short two hours, but hundreds of students joined for tea and chats, interacting with new people and talking about dreams and wishes for the future, especially in regards to the diversity and community at Otago.
In the short amount of time that I have been at Otago University, I have been consistently amazed at the acceptance and kindness practised by both students and staff to all. Not once have I seen someone being mocked for their appearance, gender or orientation.
While the Tea Party is only something that happens once a year, the feeling of that short time spent drinking tea with my peers will cling for a while to come, because it was truly something special.
For those studying at Otago, or just living in the general area, I highly recommend visiting the Queerest Tea Party in 2018 (It’s open to everyone!). I know that I will.