Nathan Lyndsay awarded Rosemary Brown Undergraduate Scholarship in Social Justice
In September 2015, undergraduate student Nathan Lyndsay was awarded the Rosemary Brown Undergraduate Scholarship in Social Justice by the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies (GSWS). Lyndsay’s activism has included building support for SFU to implement a preferred name policy for student ID cards. He also helped to organize a “shit-in” in February 2015, raising awareness about the violence many transgender and gender-variant students face in gendered washrooms and calling on SFU to remedy the lack of gender-inclusive washrooms on campus.
Lyndsay says the “shit-in” received mostly positive feedback, although SFU Campus Security did threaten to have the demonstrators arrested. Lyndsay reports that he and fellow activists like Nadine Boulay, Marlena Boyle, Theron Meyer, and Bonnie Thornbury received tremendous support from both students and faculty. “We had quite a bit of media coverage of the event and much of it was positive. And at the university-level faculty members and staff of GSWS in particular were amazingly supportive of the action and I think we were really successful.” Lyndsay explains that the university has agreed to almost all of the terms and suggestions put forth by the students and they are “in talks right now, moving towards increasing the number of multi-stalled washrooms on campus.”
In May 2105, Lyndsay also gave a public talk on the importance of gender inclusive washrooms for TEDxGastownWomen, an independently organized event inspired by the popular Technology Entertainment Design (TED) Conference talks. He says the experience was both nerve-racking and exhilarating. “I’m new at public speaking so I was very nervous leading up to the event. I wrote my speech out and practiced. I got feedback from friends and roommates. Once I got on stage, all my nervousness went away. There were over 200 people in the audience but surprisingly, I didn’t feel nervous at all.”
When asked whether or not he expected to become an activist for such issues on campus when he began his undergraduate career, Lyndsay admits he did not see himself as an activist at all: “I knew I had strong values and politics. I knew what I was passionate about, but I never thought of myself as a leader or organizer for the change I wanted to see.” Lyndsay says seeing the hard work and efforts actually motivate changes in policy and the environment is inspiring. “Through these experiences, I’ve been reminded that you don’t have to accept things the way they are, as part of the system that you cannot change. You can change things if you put the energy into it. We are changing things here at SFU through a lot of combined efforts and commitment.”