Hail and well met! My name is Nathan R. G. Barnett, and I’m the Vice President of University Affairs at the Trent Durham Student Association (TDSA). I’m so honoured and excited to be TDSA’s Steering Committee (SC) member for the 2020-2021 year. I’m a big fan of all things pop culture, especially Marvel, Harry Potter, and Star Trek, but I’m an especially big fan of all things queer pop culture!
As of right now, I’m going into my fourth year of social work and really looking forward to it. Social work has been my passion since I first took a course in it, the first class I ever took at the post-secondary level. The values of self-determination, safety, and value of all persons have spoken to me and it’s something I know I’ll spend the rest of my life fighting for.
The fight that began with that first class has led me to numerous unique opportunities. In my second year, I began working with Trent University to promote health and wellness on campus, connecting with my students through wellness events and training about self-care and mental health. This role encouraged me to get more involved in student politics. In my third year, I volunteered with TDSA on their board of directors as the Director of Inclusion. I spent the year advocating for student rights and visibility on campus and was able to author OUSA’s Two-Spirit and LGBTQ+ Students policy paper – an experience that has solidified my desire to work in policy for the rest of my life.
As well as having experience on campus, I’ve volunteered with the AIDS Committee of Durham Region, where I’ve worked with numerous at-risk populations, such as youth, queer folks, and those who use substances. Through this work, I’ve become really comfortable having uncomfortable discussions around taboo topics, such as sex, safer drug use, and queerphobia.
This year, I’m looking forward to passionately advocating for student needs and uplifting students’ lived experiences wherever possible. We are living in unprecedented times and a lot of us are vulnerable and afraid of what’s happening. I hope to work with students, my fellow SC members, and the government to support those most impacted – students of colour, queer students, students with disabilities and students who come from low-income households. We’ve been given a unique opportunity to advocate for things that students need – lower tuition, better mental and physical health supports, increased financial aid, and more – in a unique time where governments are listening to students.