UVSS Endorsement of UVic Parking Petition

Dear University of Victoria Student Society (UVSS) Members,

NOTE: Since the time this petition was endorsed, the University has made significant concessions regarding the increased costs to workers resulting from its new parking policy. To learn more about why the UVSS endorsed this petition, read on!

At our recent board meeting, the UVSS Board of Directors endorsed a petition that was started by campus union leaders, who represent the workers who sustain our campus by keeping it clean, fed, and functioning. The petition concerns the increase in the cost of parking passes as part of the University of Victoria’s (UVic) Sustainable Action Plan. We commend UVic on the sustainability initiatives and encourage everyone to find green ways to come to campus in whatever way is accessible to you, such as via cycling or transit. The fewer emissions we can create as a community, the better. However, there are significant equity issues within the current parking pass increase plan that render it more of an ableist green-washed money grab than an effective sustainability initiative. 

The worker-led petition argues that the current plan to increase parking fees was not done in consultation with labour or student groups on campus and represents an increased burden to those folks who can least afford it. The current plan would significantly impact those unable to take transit or cycle due to disability. Taking transit during an ongoing pandemic when mask mandates have been lifted puts people at increased risk of exposure to COVID-19, which is a risk many are still unwilling or unable to take.

It will also negatively impact precarious workers like custodial or food service workers, who work schedules outside transit operating hours. People with additional care responsibilities that require frequent travel on tight timelines- Parents with childcare obligations might need to use a car to have the time to do anything else. Time is a privilege many folks on our campus don’t have, and increasing the costs to park on campus by this exorbitant amount is a tone-deaf action in an affordability crisis

This part of the plan is not a sustainability initiative. It is a major increase in costs by UVIC on its time-burdened students and employees during an affordability crisis. For people who have to come to campus in order to work outside of transit operating hours, the parking pass increase and elimination of the annual pass represents a fee paid to their employer (UVic) to work. The imposition of this fee during a pandemic, a crisis of affordability, and a housing crisis is unjust, inequitable, and greedy. The UVSS endorsed this petition in solidarity with the people who are disproportionately harmed by this policy, many of whom belong to marginalized communities. We, therefore, join them in their ask that:

  • The University of Victoria reduce the parking policy increase to be less than the cost-of-living increase per year, and keep the annual pass as an affordable option for employees. 
  • Furthermore, the NTS parking pass should remain at the current rate for those precarious workers who travel before or after transit service operate. 
  • The University should also support and update the Sustainable Action plan to provide options that support the use of electric cars and includes full-time remote work options to reduce commuting, leading to less emissions.  

If the university is serious about reducing emissions from travel to campus, they will institute a hybrid-learning model in all classes, such as allowing students to learn remotely, drastically reducing emissions from students commuting to campus. Not only would it decrease emissions, but it would also ensure that everyone in our community can feel safe conducting their education through UVIC. The Access4All campaign, led by the UVSS Society for Students With A Disability, has been tirelessly lobbying the university on the importance of accessible learning. However, instead of listening, President Hall banned virtual attendance for the Board of Governor and Senate meetings if he disagreed with the members’ reasoning for attending in that format. If he really cares about reducing emissions, he will give students a choice to learn from home rather than taking more money from his employees and calling it a sustainability initiative. 

Additionally, the university should support measures to increase transit and cycling infrastructure across Victoria. We look forward to working with UVIC in the future on sustainability initiatives that uphold UVSS and UVic values of social justice, decolonization, and equity for everyone in our campus community, and working with you, the students, to help hold them accountable! 

Here are three ways you can support our initiatives on campus:

  1. Add your name to the petition!
  2. Volunteer on a campaign! Email Izzy at campaigns@uvss.ca for more information.
  3. Support SUB Businesses! All revenue goes back to providing students with services, events, and workshops!

 

Photo of outside light with Indigenous flag commemorating the 215 children, it is an orange flag with hand prints forming a heart. behind is lush green trees.

National Indigenous Peoples Day

June 21st is National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada. This date was chosen as it’s the summer solstice, the longest day of the year when many Indigenous peoples and communities celebrate their culture and heritage. This day celebrates the dynamic, robust, and diverse culture, outstanding contributions, and communities of Indigenous, Métis, and Inuit peoples across Turtle Island; each with their own distinct heritage, ancestry, language, cultural practices, and spiritual beliefs. National Indigenous Peoples Day acknowledges the resilience of Indigenous communities and culture despite ongoing cis-hetero-patriarchal colonialism that strives to uphold systems of oppression through genocide, racism, land dispossession efforts, and more. Thus, it also encourages non-Indigenous Canadians to recognize and reflect on their privilege, and take action towards decolonizing their ways of being, knowing, and doing as they walk more mindfully on Indigenous land. Notably, living on these lands we, as settlers, can know our continuing existence here showcases how settler colonialism is a structure that continues to this day; colonialism is ongoing, not simply an event of the past (Tuck & Yang 2012). 

As the UVSS continues to operate on the unceded, unsurrendered, and stolen territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples, it is vital for us settlers to self-locate and acknowledge our privilege. We encourage everyone to take a moment to acknowledge where they are reading this statement from (where you are living, learning, and playing) today. If you don’t know the territory, tribe, and/or nation you are joining us from please click here and find out. Moreover, we understand it is our responsibility to further our ongoing commitment and role in working to uphold decolonization and Indigenous self-determination. We know statements are meaningless without action and change. Decolonization and Social Justice remain key UVSS values, which guide our dedication to working within Indigenous traditional knowledge, ontologies, and epistemologies.

The UVSS acknowledges the colonial institutions and systems it works within and will take action to dismantle colonial structures in our thoughts, relationships, workplaces, classrooms, and communities. We strive for a decolonized future defined by reciprocity, responsibility, and restitution. The UVSS is committed to an equitable future for Indigenous peoples and communities by initiating these conversations as an organization, and taking meaningful action to restore justice, decolonize, and further equity on campus and in our communities.

 

To Indigenous students, faculty, and community: We see you. We support you. We are ready to listen, learn, and unlearn.

 

In making this statement, we, the UVSS, commit to walk softly and mindfully on this land and work to uphold decolonization and Indigenous self-determination.

 

Resources:

For all students, below is a non-exhaustive list of resources on decolonization, land back, local peoples & histories, and how you can get involved: 

 

Additions to the Resource List:

 

Resource List:

  • Beyond 94: this is an interactive website that outlines the 94 calls to action outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report published in June 2015.
  • You can find the full Truth and Reconciliation Report and Calls to Action here: www.trc.ca 
  • Here are some calls to action from this report that relate to post-secondary education:
  1. We call upon the federal government to develop with Aboriginal groups a joint strategy to eliminate educational and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

  2. We call upon the federal government to provide adequate funding to end the backlog of First Nations students seeking a post-secondary education.

  3. We call upon law schools in Canada to require all law students to take a course in Aboriginal people and the law…

  4. We call upon the federal, provincial and territorial governments, in consultation and collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal Peoples and educators to…Provide the necessary funding to post-secondary institutions to educate teachers on how to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms.

  5. We call upon the federal government, through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and in collaboration with Aboriginal Peoples, post-secondary institutions and educators, and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and its partner institutions, to establish a national research program with multi-year funding to advance understanding of reconciliation.

You can learn more about the local nations whose land on which we live, work, and play by taking a look at their websites:

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

lək̓ʷəŋən Nations:

 

Note: if you have any additions to this list please email comm@uvic.ca 

 

 

 

References:

Tuck, E., & Yang, K. W. 2012. Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 1, 1-40.

 

International Trans Day of Visibility

The International Trans Day of Visibility is an annual event committed to celebrating trans+ people and raising awareness of the prejudice and bigotry faced by transgender people across the world. 

Being able to exist as your true self is something that most people do every day without a second thought. However for trans+ people living openly can be very dangerous, and just being visible can cause a daily risk for these individuals. Yet increased visibility of trans+ people in our communities and in the media helps raise awareness that can help to change attitudes. Increasing awareness and removing discrimination is a key step in securing trans+ peoples safety and rights.

Marginalized communities have high levels of intersectionality. The UVSS strives to continue to be a safe space for all individuals, and aims to promote meaningful social change on campus and in the world around us. In recognising today’s International Trans Day of Visibility we want folks to take time today to reflect and educate yourself further on the issues faced by trans+ individuals.

If you’re interested to learn more, we recommend the following resources:

  1. 4 Toxic Messages I Learned About Gender (and 4 to Teach Instead)
  2. Gender Terminology Discussion Guide
  3. Pronoun Guide
  4. UVSS Advocacy Relations Committee Educational Post for Trans Day of Remembrance

Statement against transphobia on campus

To the UVic students, staff, and faculty,

It is with great sadness and pain that we must respond to a spree of transphobic and transmisogynistic graffiti across campus.  

This type of hate is not welcome on our campus. Collectively as the University of Victoria Student Society’s (UVSS) Advocacy Groups, we exist to support the diversity of our students. We stand together to affirm that gender diversity is welcomed, accepted, and supported at the UVSS and in the Student Union Building. We strive to ensure the UVic Campus remains a safe and welcoming space for all students, and we are pained to see when it falls short of that.

The recent graffiti on campus carries harmful and false messages that we must counteract immediately. Genitalia does not define womanhood, nor any other gender identity; not all women have penises and those that do not are just as valid as those that do. Trans women are women. Full stop.

Trans-exclusionary radical feminism (TERFism) is a hateful ideology that weaponizes misconceptions and shallow understandings of biology, gender, and sex.  We also acknowledge the heteropatriarchal colonial origins of the sex-gender binary, including the historical and ongoing effects it has on Two-Spirit, trans, and queer Indigenous individuals. The UVSS will not tolerate this hate. 

To our trans feminine and trans women community members: You are loved. You are seen.  You are valid. You are not alone. We stand with you. Please feel free to reach out for supports from UVic Pride, the Gender Empowerment Centre (GEM), or the Anti-Violence Project (AVP).

If you or someone you know has information regarding graffiti spreading on campus, please do not hesitate to reach out.  

 

Signed,

UVSS Board of Directors

UVic Pride

Society for Students with a Disability (SSD)

Gender Empowerment Centre (GEM)

Students of Colour Collective (SOCC)

Native Students Union (NSU)

 

A note from the UVSS Board on January 27:

We want to acknowledge and appreciate the labour of trans people who created the statement above.

Centring trans voices and experiences is crucial, but our communities also need to ensure trans people don’t have to hold the burden of noticing and calling out transphobia, in addition to personally experiencing the harm and pain that it inflicts. Non-trans people need to step up to help address these injustices. Moreover, we acknowledge when trans, non-binary and two-spirit people share their experiences, it is not the place of the UVSS, or peoples who do not share the identity or lived experience to correct, debate, or question their experience.

The UVSS has deep work to do to ensure our shared spaces, our workplace, and everything we do is safer for trans, non-binary, two-spirit, and gender-diverse community members. It is a priority for us, but our actions have not always lived up to our values, and have sometimes failed to ensure safety for some community members. The UVSS Board is committed to addressing this and doing better. We will be undertaking a policy review and working towards internal culture change.

UVSS Statement on UVic’s decision to shift to online exams

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the UVSS has continued to advocate for the safety and accessibility needs of students at the University of Victoria. We support UVic’s decision to shift from in-person exams to online exams or alternative arrangements — something that students have been asking for since last week’s rise in COVID-19 cases on campus. 

Many students were alarmed by the recent outbreak and lack of support, transparency, and notice provided by the University of Victoria. Exams are already a stressful time for students, only made more stressful by concerns over potential COVID-19 spread. We were glad to see decisive action from the University on Sunday evening—and although many students wish it had come sooner, the decision to no longer have in-person exams helps to ease student concerns and keep us safe. It’s important to note that the Access4All campaign, run by the Society for Students with a Disability, has been advocating UVic to implement a hybrid mode of class delivery for many months now. Hybrid classes would alleviate some of these barriers to education and stress inducing factors caused by the shift to online examinations. Many students, staff, and faculty have expressed support for hybrid classes!

The UVSS appreciates the effort from UVic to be more transparent about COVID-19 cases on campus and hope they continue doing so with more contingency and pandemic planning measures, informed by students, staff and faculty, in place to prevent sudden and stress-inducing shifts in the future. The emergence of the highly transmissible Omicron variant demonstrates the heightened importance of having contingency planning in place, ready for swift and responsive action at the onset of an outbreak. We are all trying to navigate these unprecedented times, and the UVSS’ objective is to seek a clear and transparent process that ensures that the students and the UVic community at large are safe. Below we have outlined our asks of the UVic Administration following this most recent COVID-19 outbreak and other actionable requests as we move forward into the new year.

 

UVSS Asks:

  • The University should be taking transparent proactive, not reactive, measures to ensure the safety of UVic students. To ease stress for students, staff, and teaching assistants, we request that UVic have a concrete action plan, accompanied by a communications plan, to proactively manage future outbreaks. UVic community members should be made aware when cases occur and should know what steps the University plans to take to keep them safe.
    • Information on cases, clusters, and outbreaks should be located at a centralized, up-to-date webpage accessible to the campus community. Clear messaging and an action plan should be immediately communicated across UVic’s platform when COVID-19 cases occur within the campus community.
  • We ask UVic to communicate their plans for the Winter 2022 semester as soon as possible, as many students need to plan ahead for January.
  • We ask professors to give grace for students during this December exam period by allowing faculty to grade holistically (i.e. reflect on student’s performance throughout the term).
  • We ask that the administration look into pass/fail options for future semesters to give students more grace and options.
    • In addition to this, there are many students whose studies have been affected by COVID-19 for various reasons that pass/fail options don’t work for. For example, students moving on to grad school who need grades on their transcript and students who have renewable scholarships who need certain GPA averages to renew their scholarships.We ask that UVic also create alternative options to pass/fail for students whose grades have been affected by COVID-19, but still need their GPA to be accurate.
  • We ask that UVic continues to include on transcripts the note stating “this semester was taken during COVID-19 pandemic” on the affected semesters.

The safety of our campus is a shared responsibility and one we hope everyone in the UVic community will continue to take seriously. We know many students have been cautious throughout these months, but we are also seeing how quickly transmission can occur and a situation can escalate. UVic is responsible for managing the university with the safety of students, staff, and faculty at the forefront a during a global pandemic, which is undoubtedly difficult. The UVSS remains committed to advocating and working with UVic to ensure our campus is safe and accessible for all students. 

Long before this recent event, the Society for Students with a Disability’s Access4All campaign has requested and advocated for hybrid learning with online options to ensure students at greater risk for COVID-19, or who face barriers from in-person learning have equitable access to education. On Friday December 17th 2021, the SSD released this statement regarding this issue and how it disproportionately impacts students with a disability and the UVSS continues to support their actionable requests.

Trans Day of Remembrance

UVSS Statement on the 2021 AGM