UVSS Statement – Trudeau x UVic Budget Visit

On April 19th, we posted on our story voicing concerns regarding the visit from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, highlighting the 2024 Federal Budget. The press conference and subsequent Q&A session was held in the Center for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities (CARSA) on campus. We were not made aware of this event, as neither the Prime Minister nor the President’s Office communicated this visit to the UVic Students’ Society.

This visit to campus lacked significant student representation; no student organizations were present, and the students who were there were given limited time to prepare. Considering the impact of the Federal Budget on post-secondary students, this deliberate exclusion from important discussions and opportunities is unacceptable. Who better to advocate for student issues than students themselves?

The significance of this oversight is glaring and part of a consistent pattern of ignoring students’ concerns, especially in regards to divestment, international student fees, and the shuttering of McKinnon gym. We listened when you promised us a “culture of courage, trust, curiosity and flexibility” as a part of UVic’s 2023 Strategic Plan titled “Distinctly UVic.” So, while UVic can articulate in official documents their desire to hear from students, their actions consistently demonstrate a disregard for our authentic voices and open dialogue. As students, it’s clear that what is truly “Distinctly UVic” is the consistent choice to exclude students from decision-making.

We ask that UVic notifies the UVSS of any meetings with government officials, with a minimum 24 hours notice, or as soon as reasonably possible.

UVic, student voices matter! No student input, no visit!

In solidarity,
UVSS Board of Directors

International Women’s Day Statement

Happy International Women’s Day! 

 

Today and every day, the UVSS seeks to serve students from an intersectional, feminist, and decolonial lens. We recognize that people continue to be marginalized on the basis of gender, and this impacts people differently depending on their identity and experiences.

 

We also acknowledge that to be a “woman” is not a singular or universal experience. We recognize and stand in solidarity with the diversity of experiences of womanhood — and how these experiences intersect with racialization, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and colonization.

We believe that none of us are free until all of us are free. The liberation of women from patriarchy is at once the liberation of racialized women from white supremacy, the liberation of queer women from homophobia and transphobia, the liberation of working-class women from the vicious cycle of poverty, and so forth. These systems of oppression reinforce each other — we cannot combat one by reproducing the others. The groups pushing abortion bans are the same ones criminalizing queer visibility, dumping funding into policing Black and Indigenous communities, privatizing our healthcare, rolling back workers’ protections, and destroying the global ecosystem. There is no world where we can achieve liberation by allying ourselves with reactionaries — any threat made to one group of women is a threat made against all of us.

We exist in a world where the most dangerous place to be a woman is in the home with a man that you know; where violence on the basis of sex and gender — femicide — is incredibly prevalent, though it is hardly ever recognized as such. We see this in the EQHR Sexualized Violence Prevention and Response policy, which includes zero mentions of intimate partner violence, something the UVSS has been pounding the table about for months. Women exist as distinct individuals and yet so often they are deprived of life and autonomy because it is believed that men should have ownership of their bodies and livelihoods.

 

We recognize how gender inequity shows up on our own campus, one prominent example being enrollment discrepancies across faculties — for example, only 19% of the engineering and computer science faculty are female students. So we pose the question: What are our responsibilities in the fight to achieve gender liberation? 

 

We are once again urging the UVic Administration to implement mandatory EDI training across all curricula, especially those where there are such great gender gaps.   

 

We’d like to highlight a women-led group on campus: UVic Women in Science! This club works to create an inclusive and empowering environment that welcomes people of all gender identities to engage in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Their mission is to foster connections and provide unwavering support for women and misogyny-affected STEM students to learn, grow, and shape a future where everyone can thrive in STEM together. Watch our story to see a short video with more information about UVic Women in Science, hosted by two of the group’s student leaders! 

We’d also like to highlight the important work done by the Gender Empowerment Centre, @uvicgem, an advocacy group focused on the needs of self-identified women, non-binary, trans, and gender nonconforming people, and the UVSS Anti-Violence Project, @anti.violence.project, which works to end gender-based & sexualized violence.

Once again, Happy International Women’s Day! 

Sincerely, 

UVSS Executive Team



UVSS Statement for Black History Month – February 2024

On behalf of the UVSS, I want to wish all of UVIC, especially our melanated brothers and sisters, a Happy Black History Month!

To those of us who stand united in this powerful identity, I encourage you to continue to take up space – unapologetically, zealously, and consistently. To this end, we want to give the biggest shout-out to the executive body of the African and Caribbean Students’ Association (ACSA) and the Student of Colour Collective (SOCC) as they work tirelessly to promote Black identity, celebrate black culture, and foster unity among those of us who share this remarkable diasporic bond. We at the UVSS recognize, commend, and extol the work of countless Black scholars who have helped to shape our academic landscape – including the Black faculty of our very own university. 

To the UVIC student body, I encourage everyone to join us in celebrating this momentous month and to use this academic and multinational space to attain knowledge on Black history, open your ears to the rich perspectives of Black scholars in your chosen field, ask questions, consider the impact of the Black Canadian community and continue to stand in solidarity with the Black community in spaces that may seek to challenge this solidarity through discrimination. 

We recognize that although the Black Lives Matter campaign is no longer at the cultural forefront as it was a few years ago, there is still much work to be done in Black liberation. We want to be a part of that ongoing change as we seek to amplify Black voices, advocate against implicit and explicit racism, and further our understanding of this precious community that is part of the mosaic of our campus.

Let’s celebrate the powerful legacy of this month and all it commemorates. Let us continue to honour the shoulders upon which we stand as we, through our own self-actualization, continue to pave the way forward for those who will come after us. 

Peace ya’ll. 

In solidarity, 

Gabrielle Miller, UVSS Director-at-Large 

In collaboration with the UVSS Executive Team 

UVSS Statement on Palestine and Israel

UVSS National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Statement

Tomorrow, September 30th, is National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. The intention of the day is to recognize the ongoing harm caused by the colonial system to Indigenous communities, and to honour those lost to its violence. We recognize that the UVSS, as all colonial institutions are, is an imposition to the land of the Lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees and Esquimalt) and WSÁNEĆ Peoples which we currently reside on.

It has been seven years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission put forward its recommendations to the government of Canada. Of these 94 recommendations, only 11 have been implemented. We need to see the calls for change made by Indigenous peoples to be responded to and genuinely heard across our society and government.

This issue cannot be something settlers only attend to annually, but an ongoing process of demanding justice, and equity for Indigenous peoples.

As a Student Union, we see this day specifically through the lens of working in an academic setting. While this university has been a place of community and learning to many, we must recognize the colonial history of education. The first industrial schools in Canada were residential schools — what it means to learn and to teach in this country is rooted in the colonial project.

As we stand on this campus we must be aware of the contradiction between seeking truth, reconciliation, and decolonization and the fact that post-secondary education often stands as the antithesis of that. In this moment of reflection, we must keep in mind how we learn, who we learn from, and what we learn about: these questions will help expose how our education centres a colonial worldview, and devalues Indigenous knowledge. When learning has been constructed and defined by colonial standards it ignores the ancestral teachings that have been passed on for generations and what ties people to community and the land. Learning does not happen in 13-week cycles, learning is not simply reading from a textbook, or passing an exam. Learning is a process that takes commitment — to learn something is to be changed by it. We must consider what the decolonization of education looks like, and to do this we must look to Indigenous voices. The role of settlers must be to listen if we are to genuinely decolonize our education and Indigenous land.

We are not asking you to stop learning, but rather, to seek teachers outside of the classroom. The classroom has historically excluded Indigenous folks — those that know this corner of the world best — and in doing so, it has allowed us to forget our responsibility to, and respect for, this land. 

Today, tomorrow, and all days, we encourage settlers to reflect on how we show up on this land and we use our privilege to advocate for truth, reconciliation, and decolonization. 

For Indigenous students, staff, and community members this day goes far beyond the learning that settlers have to catch up with. This day is often heavy, angering, and retraumatizing. The injustice of having to carry that weight everyday cannot be understated. If you are needing support at this time or in the future, we encourage you to explore the resources listed on this page. 

If you wish to seek out leadership from the local nations, please see the list of links below. 

W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council: https://wsanec.com/

https://tsartlip.com/

https://tsawout.ca/

https://www.pauquachin.ca/

http://www.tseycum.ca/

lək̓ʷəŋən nations

https://www.songheesnation.ca/

https://www.esquimaltnation.ca/

UVSS Condemns the Hateful 1 Million March 4 Children

There is a palpable heaviness that can be felt across UVic in the wake of the announcement for the planned anti-trans, anti-queer marches that are taking place all across the nation today.

The prevalence of trans-antagonistic far-right scapegoating has markedly increased the past few years. For hundreds of years in our postcolonial country, queer folks have been used as a vessel to deflect anger about systemic and societal failures.

The rhetoric of “protecting children” from queer and trans identity has plagued discussions on the place of queerness in society. Time and time again we see anti-2SLGBTQ+ legislation and violence justified in this way. This discourse is used to oppose inclusive sex education and queer representation in schools, or to institute trans-antagonistic policies in education. Both of these outcomes are associated with a marked increase in suicide rates for trans and queer youth. With this in mind, it’s easy to understand the real goal of the protest not as protecting children, but rather instituting anti-queer policies.

Queer adults were once queer children. Increased sex and gender education results in better outcomes for children. Protests against “gender ideology” in our schools show an ongoing opposition to trans and queer existence. In light of these protests, we stand united in wanting better for the queer kids who are going to school now, and into the future.

  • Protecting children is implementing inclusive Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) curricula in the education system.
  • Protecting children is defending the most vulnerable children, and educating them and their peers about the identities they are coming into.
  • Protecting children is not marching against their right to be who they are.

In the face of hate and intolerance we want to thank those who support queer and trans youth. Educators across this country receive our deepest gratitude for supporting queer kids through their time in school.

We call upon allies to show up and fiercely protect the queer and trans community today and every day. To remember that queer existence continues to be contested and that we must rally together in defense of it. To stand by us when it is hard and when it is scary, because it matters far more than when it is convenient. It takes a backbone to be queer. It takes a backbone to support queer people all the time – not just a one off during June. We must not back down on the ground we have gained!!

We once again call upon the UVic administration to take swift action on campus to implement mandatory Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion curricula in all faculties as a preventative measure to stop far-right radicalization and trans-antagonism on campus.

To the trans and queer students on campus right now who are scared and hurt, take care of yourselves and take care of each other.

In solidarity and in rage,
UVSS Executive Team

Resources:
Pride Collective @uvicpridecollective (room B010 in the SUB)
The Gender Empowerment Centre (room B107 in the SUB)
The Anti-Violence Project (room B027 in the SUB)
UVSS Enhanced Student Health and Dental Plan with new Gender Affirming Care Coverage (room A102 in the SUB)
UVSS Enhanced Student Health and Dental Plan with new Conversation Uncapped Mental Health Coverage

UVSS Condemns Recent Violent and Hateful Act at University of Waterloo

*Content warning for queer, trans, and gender-based violence*

Our hearts are with everyone affected by the violent and hateful act recently performed at the University of Waterloo. The UVSS condemns this incident in the strongest terms and recognizes that it highlights a concerning rise in anti-queer, anti-trans, and misogynistic hate and the normalization of it in our culture. We also recognize that this brutality being committed during pride month is no coincidence.

It is integral that university communities everywhere use this time to reflect inwardly about intolerance exhibited on our own campuses and what must be done in order to promote education and acceptance.

We call on the University of Victoria, as well as other post-secondary institutions, to provide proactive solutions to combat hate and promote tolerance on campus. This includes mandatory EDI training within the curricula of all faculties, with particular attention provided to faculties with inequitable gender representation in their enrolment.

Idleness is complacency in the fight against hate. Words of support are nothing without action. Let this use our outrage to mobilize us into tangible action, to ensure this never happens again. Caring for each other cannot be an empty promise.

Safety is something we achieve together. We implore you to lead with curiosity and love at this time and always.

In solidarity,
Your UVSS Board of Directors Executive Team

National Indigenous Peoples Day 2023

June 21st is a day to celebrate the diverse communities of Indigenous, First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples across Turtle Island. It is a day to recognize, reflect and uplift the resistance of Indigenous peoples that continue to this day against ongoing settler colonialism. Settler colonialism is an ongoing system of power that perpetuates genocide, racism, and land dispossession for the purpose of foreigner settlers to inhabit land.

As student leaders we are committed to analyzing our unique positionality within settler colonialism so our decolonization efforts are not an empty signifier of change. We want to lead with integrity this board year and show through equitable action, and guidance from the Lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples whose unceded and unsurrendered territories the UVSS operates on.  We Understand it is our responsibility to further our ongoing commitment to decolonization and Indigenous self-determination. Decolonization and social justice are key UVSS values, which are at the forefront of our work.

We ask all students, staff and community members who use our services to critically think about their own positionality and involvement. We hope that you take this reflection to heart and allow it to flow through you and into your everyday interactions in your personal, academic, and professional lives.

Here is a list of resources that can help guide your self-reflection and broaden your understanding of the relationship we as settlers have to colonization:

Interactive map resources:

Read:

Podcasts:

  • All My Relations Podcast
  • Métis in Space
  • Media Indigena
  • Stories from the Land
  • Unreserved
  • The Secret Life of Canada

Thank you,

Your UVSS Board of Directors