Where did UW’s rainbow crosswalks come from?

UW administration stands with members of Glow on a rainbow crosswalk outside Dana Porter Library. Photo courtesy of Tracelyn Cornelius.

According to Tracelyn Cornelius, director of UW Inclusive Communications, UW’s new rainbow crosswalks are a product of collaboration between the Inclusive Communications unit, Marketing and Brand, and the equity unit of the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-racism (EDI-R). Cornelius stated that the equity unit collaborated with staff and students who are part of the LGBTQ+ community as well as Glow, the university’s student-run LGBTQ+ support centre, to discuss and share the different activities planned. 

According to UW’s equity survey conducted in 2021, 27 per cent of students at UW identify as a sexuality other than heterosexual.

Andrea, a second-year environmental science student who identifies as bisexual, expressed concerns regarding the lack of marketing around the rainbow crosswalks, as well as the timing of their installation, which occurred right before Pride Month. 

“It does feel a little PR-y,” Andrea said, stating that she would’ve liked the university to have given people more notice regarding the crosswalks. “They didn’t give any information regarding it, it was just kind of there…maybe a little bit more [of] like, ‘Hey, we’re doing this, and this is why, and we’re happy about it.’”

Cornelius wants students to know that UW’s celebration of Pride Month is “a matter of respect.”

“We live in a world where one group is celebrated every day, [but] everybody needs to be celebrated,” Cornelius said.

The EDI-R’s other equity work includes the implementation of gender-neutral washrooms in collaboration with Glow, and stocking free menstrual products in 129 washrooms across campus.

This year, for the first time, the university will also fly the two-spirit flag alongside the Pride flag, a decision Cornelius said was made after consulting with the local Indigenous community. Additionally, on June 5, students can expect to see a flock of rainbow geese on campus. The artist behind the project is UW student and artist Rachel Lily Jung.