The student-run community news site of Vermont State University - Johnson

Basement Medicine

The student-run community news site of Vermont State University - Johnson

Basement Medicine

The student-run community news site of Vermont State University - Johnson

Basement Medicine

A new place for Unity

Heike Chaney
Unity standing with Teach-Out at the 2023 Burlington Pride Parade

The Veteran’s room in Dewey has been a pretty quiet place over the past few years. Until this semester, it had been a lightly-used gathering space for veterans on campus. Now it has transformed into The Unity Space and the room is hardly ever empty.

The Unity Space is the new home of the Unity club (previously NVUnity). There, the club has hosted multiple events so far in the semester, including its traditional annual activities, such as button making and a trip to Burlington Pride. The month of October promises more events hosted in the space, including Halloween Movie Trivia and, a newer hit event, sex toy BINGO.
Unity has been an active club on the Johnson campus for four years now, striving to educate and inform others about queer identities, and providing a safe place for queer students to meet. Now, the club plans bigger and better things at its new space in the Dewey Building.

Unity President Emerson Bemis said they had been requesting a designated room of operations since their freshman year in 2020. Bemis had their eyes set on the Veteran’s Room, and they were finally given the space this past summer, during the relocation of departments due to the university merger.

Along with events, Unity strives to provide resources to students in the LGBTQ community all over campus. The new space holds a growing “Queer Little Library,” with both books ranging from Queer-related education to fiction reads with representation.

Students can also visit the room for informational pamphlets on safe sex, sexual and mental health, and queer identities. Physical resources that students can access include HIV test kits, condoms, and dental dams, with designated spots for latex-free options. Transgender and non-binary students can utilize gender-affirming care items, such as TransTape and makeup. According to Bemis, more resources for gender-affirming care, like latex-free chest binding options, are in the works.

All of these and more will be available for the next few semesters, but Bemis is unsure about what will become of them, and the club in general, once they graduate at the end of this school year in May. Bemis said there is no one waiting in the wings to take over running the club.

Clubs are required to host events in order to be considered active and receive funding, whether those events are for members only or open to the campus. As the only official club cabinet member aside from the treasurer, Bemis is responsible for organizing and hosting all events, including open space hours, and all communications.

“I usually outsource people, my friends, to help me run events,” Bemis said. Bemis credited students Harley Moore, Daiton Amsden, and Unity’s Treasurer, Peyton Hathaway for their help.
“I’d rather not appoint a President,” said Bemis. “I would prefer for it to go to someone who was interested.”

Bemis encouraged students to reach out at any time if they’d like to get involved with hosting events, becoming more active with the club, or if they would like information about the presidency.
The Unity space in Dewey is open at all hours, but Bemis can be found there Mondays and Wednesdays from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Students are encouraged to drop by and hang out in between classes, even if they don’t plan to utilize the space’s other resources.

“It made me excited that people are actually using the space and it’s not going to waste,” said Bemis, recalling how they’ve walked past the room to see students napping, doing work, and hanging out in the space when they aren’t around. “[The University] can’t try to say that no one utilizes it, because someone’s always in there.”

Bemis can be contacted through Unity’s Instagram page @unity_on_johnson, or by email at [email protected]. Notes can also be left, including event ideas, on the whiteboard within the Unity space.

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About the Contributors
Dayne Bell
Dayne Bell, Editor in Chief
Dayne (he/they) is a creative writing student who has probably already told you where he's from. His zodiac sign is Pisces, which tells you everything you need to know.
Heike Chaney
Heike Chaney, Staff Writer, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Transfer Student, Interdisciplinary Studies (Theatre & Communications) Based in Hartford, VT Fall 2023-Present SLAP Coordinator & DANCELAND Club Member I can do a shockingly good Judy Garland impression, and I have been in over 22 Theatre productions since the sixth grade! ;) Favorite Roles: Adela Van Norman (THE IT GIRL); Martha Cratchitt (A CHRISTMAS CAROL); Chutney Wyndham (LEGALLY BLONDE).