Members of the public and Royal Roads University’s LGBTQ communities joined at the campus entrance in Colwood on Friday to paint the university’s third rainbow crosswalk, the latest display of the school’s embrace of diversity.
“Ours are communities which represent the full diversity of our society, both in the students, the staff and the faculty ranks,” said RRU president Philip Steenkamp, concluding that academia should model behaviours of inclusivity.
“Through projects like this, we encourage people to choose compassion and dialogue over discrimination, to choose equity and liberation over oppression.”
The painting of this third rainbow crosswalk, near the intersection of Sooke Road and University Drive, was saved for last given its premium on visibility, Steenkamp said. Two others were laid this month at the eastern and western intersections of University and College drives, near Hatley Castle and the recreation centre.
Steenkamp, who is gay, said he’s always found his university to be an inclusive environment in the two years he’s worked there. But prior to their most recent efforts, “we have not visibly demonstrated that inclusion,” he said. This year Hatley Castle raised a rainbow flag to mark Pride Month for the second time in its 113-year history.
RRU professional communications student Jan Van Vianen said support for LGBTQ identifying students throughout his application process was a large reason why he chose the university. The recent visible demonstrations of that support are akin to the hallmark silent protests of LGBTQ acceptance movements across North America, he said.
Recent Royal Bay Secondary graduate Oliver Wood also attended the Royal Roads crosswalk painting, having partly inspired it following the Pride painting of his alma mater’s crosswalk at Ryder Hesjedal Way, according to Steenkamp.
“It is crazy to see a big institution show this on their grounds,” said Wood. “It’s leading to that more inclusive, equitable culture that we need within our community.” The resulting vandalism of his high school’s Pride crosswalk is evidence of that fact, he added.
“The Royal Bay incident is a local reminder that we remain in a time of adversity for many, here and around the world,” Steenkamp said. In the past, the university had seen racial slurs painted on trees. Along with having stepped up security on campus, Steenkamp said the community would be back to repaint any defacement of their crosswalks, if necessary.