Inside the Rainbow – Diverse, Inclusive, and Supportive

Samuel GlenAs a community advocate who focuses on creating greater representation and acknowledgement of Massey rainbow/takatāpui students, Samuel Glen’s vision is to ensure that the support and voice are there for our LGBTTIQA+ students.

Sam is currently in his second year of a Bachelor of Health Science, majoring in Mental Health and Addiction through Massey Distance Learning. He’s a member of the NZUSA Rainbow Committee and was elected to the Massey Distance Board as Vice President and became their Rainbow Officer this year.

Massey’s flexible way of learning

Born in Wellington and growing up in Invercargill from when he was a young child, a deep bond with New Zealand’s southernmost city encouraged Sam to choose distance study at Massey University.

“I searched online, and only Massey offered what I wanted to study online. I wanted to stay in Invercargill with my family and decided to study Health Science by distance through Massey.” Sam shares what his distance experience has been like. “There are online Zoom tutorials, and the tutors and university staff are in the classes, providing support and help.” He says that online study also has a Facebook or Messenger group like most classes, which is good for getting in touch with each other and asking questions.

As a fantastic alternative to traditional on-campus, in-person learning, the online learning environment promotes a better study-life balance and allows Sam a much more flexible and manageable schedule. It means he can make the most of his free time to connect with and help those in need.

Be there

Being elected to Massey Distance Board as Vice President and then becoming their Rainbow Officer was a huge surprise to and honor for Sam. He believes committing himself to serve rainbow students is to make sure they have a voice and know the support is there – diversity of identity or sexual orientation shouldn’t be a barrier to accessing support.

“I’ve seen friends, especially transgender people, sometimes desperately need help. But they didn’t realize there was support for them, which caused them a lot of anxiety, particularly when they’re young.”

Massey’s diversity and inclusion policies are designed to make sure Massey is a safe, respectful, and welcoming place for rainbow students.

“I talk with Connor Mcleod, the Diversity and Inclusion Advisor at Massey, about diversity and inclusion and what support services are there for those in need. He’s been awesome with the work he has put into the rainbow community.” 

Sam says that at Massey, the campus student association, rainbow student clubs, and other groups can help directly with support and advocacy. “No question is stupid; if you have one, just say it, and someone will always be there for you.”

Be together

Samuel GlenOnline quizzes, movie nights, mindfulness sessions, silent study sessions, and online study support – there are many events to bring rainbow students together and connect the community, which Sam has been devoted to doing.  

To celebrate Semester Two O-week, Sam organized a creative artwork competition to give everyone an opportunity to be creative. Recently, a rainbow-themed pub quiz night and a coloring competition were held to celebrate this year’s LGBT Pride Month. The coloring competition was intended to take something black and white and bring life into it by using rainbow colors.

Sam has a huge interest in art and music, creating both whenever he can to express thoughts and evoke different feelings. Art making is the purest form of self-expression and enables Sam to channel his feelings creatively.  

This year has been a memorable one for Sam as there have been highlights and achievements – the most outstanding was getting Massey@Distance to become a not-for-profit supporter of the Pride Pledge.  

The Pride Pledge is a values-based commitment that organizations and individuals can take to demonstrate their dedication to the safety, visibility, and inclusion of the rainbow members of their community and workforce, both internally and externally. “It is awesome, and anyone can take the pledge for free as an individual. They provide excellent training and opportunities, and I completed their Rainbow Awareness 101 training earlier this year – it was great,” says Sam.  

“Keeping in mind that there are many factions that members can belong to within the rainbow community – it isn’t black and white. It is also important to remember that not all rainbow members are at the visibility stage.”   

Sam reflects that one of the essential things to creating rainbow-friendly spaces is to be supportive and welcoming, and everyone can benefit from a better understanding of the rainbow community.  

Find out more about what support rainbow students can get at Massey:

Find out more about distance education at Massey: