United by a cause

Vincent Li (BA ‘21)
24 Aug 2022

One of the first memories I have of being at the Australian National University (ANU) was during the plebiscite for marriage equality. I was an international student, freshly arrived in Australia, and although I wasn't too familiar with Australian politics, I am part of the LBGTQIA+ community.

The plebiscite was the catalyst for my involvement in social activism at ANU, through which I have met some of my greatest friends. Seeing how passionately the University community, and some members of leadership, were working to campaign for marriage equality lit my fire. Before then, I wasn't very engaged in politics, in fact, I was watching from the sidelines. So, when the Bill for marriage equality passed it was a very defining moment for me - I felt so proud to be a part of the campaign and I became committed to helping the ANU community.

Every time I helped run campaigns and meetings, I made connections with people who wanted to better the welfare of students. By joining others who shared my passion I made wonderful connections with academics and my peers. It was a really touching experience for me.

I will always remember the activism I was involved in while at university. Like standing as an ally of sexual assault survivors, and campaigning for change surrounding safety and sexual assaults on campus. Or when a group of student leaders mobilised during the 2019 bush fires, purchasing masks and distributing them to those most vulnerable to the smoke that was inundating Canberra. These memories of working with my friends to support the community are really unique and special to me.

After about two-years of being involved in student activism and politics, I was elected to the ANU Students' Association as Queer Officer. I was later made aware that I was the first international student to be elected to that position in its more than two decades of existence - I hope I am not the last, and that I left a footprint that continues the conversation around intersectionality in activism and leadership. That's something I worked really hard on during my time at ANU, and something I continue to advocate for through the ANU LGBTQIA+ Network.

Today, I am still engaged in activism at ANU through the ANU LGBTQIA+ Network. A big project the community are working on is to make it easier for transgender and non-binary alumni to change their names on their testimonials, diplomas and degrees. Some alumni identify by a different name or gender to what they did while at university and, unfortunately, the administrative process can create quite a barrier to having these important documents made correct. The ANU LGBTQIA Network is trying to help make that process just a little bit smoother, and to acknowledge the experience people have been through. That's something I'm really proud to be able to weigh in on.

Story prepared in collaboration with the ANU Women's Alumni Network.

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