In 2016, OUA turned its logo rainbow on social media, showing support for changes to the Marriage Act, and the equality of all people, no matter their way of life. The response from our student community and their networks was huge, and it became clear how passionate people feel about this issue.
Not everybody was behind us; some claimed that an educational institution ought to remain neutral on such a political issue, and others saw our stance as evidence of the moral decay of society. However, the overwhelming majority of responses were from people standing behind us, and some of their comments received were extraordinarily moving. One student even sent me a box of muffins (and they were delicious!)
We didn’t set out to be provocative or divisive. We merely wanted to reflect the ethos that OUA has always stood for; namely, access to products, services and social institutions. For nearly 25 years, we’ve been committed to providing access to higher education for members of the community; those who had been actively denied a uni place in the past, or whose personal circumstances saw them unable to gain access to higher education.
More than 300,000 people have benefited from the commitment we’ve made. The letters, emails and calls that I receive from students every day tell the story of how access to education has transformed their lives, and the lives of their families and communities. It’s not only about the knowledge they’ve acquired, but about self-confidence, and feeling proud of what they’ve accomplished.
More than anything, this is what education does. It helps us to discover or rediscover strengths that we have. It requires us to fight, persevere and show resilience when things get tough. It helps us to process the complexity of the world in which we live. It reminds us of our worth.
And so, as we at OUA celebrate the results of last week’s postal survey, we hope that you’ll understand why. Yes, it’s because a number of our staff members will now have the ability to marry the person they love when that was unavailable to them previously. Yes, it’s because that will also undoubtedly be the case for a large number of our students. Yes, it’s because virtually all of us at OUA has at least one family member or close friend for whom this has been a tough campaign, but who can now feel equal under the law. In my case, I’m ecstatic that my two LGBTQI children will be able to marry whomever they choose. But, even more than those personal reasons to celebrate, we’re pleased that marriage will no longer be denied to certain defined groups of people, just as we have always been proud to be able to tear down the barriers that have denied access to higher education to certain defined groups of people as well. Being open to all is not just reflected in our company name, brand and business model; it’s core to our DNA and our culture.
For those looking to understand these issues a little better, you might be interested in studying the subject, Contemporary Issues in Australian Politics as part of your degree.
And if you’d like to drop me a line to let me know your thoughts on this or other issues, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org; I’d love to hear from you.