A response to the Martlet: what really happened at the UVic Women’s Centre

Things have been hostile in the Student Union Building lately. This summer has been marked by a battle for the Women’s Centre, as a small but vocal contingent of radical transpeople (known by some as anti-feminist trans activists, or AFTAs) have taken over and excluded feminists from a Centre founded 35 years ago as a safe space for women.

This takeover was accomplished without consulting with students.

Progress on the women’s rights front has been slow going. In the past two years alone, there have been four rapes reported by female students at UVic. Two women were murdered by men in Victoria last year, and a man murders a woman twice a week in Canada. Over a thousand indigenous women are missing or murdered in the past decade. The Women’s Centre was set up to be a safe space for women, and that provision is in the Centre’s UVSS constitution. Every day on campus, males harass objectify women students. Women are underrepresented in tenured positions in this colonized environment.

All the more reason why places like the Women’s Centre are essential for all female-bodied people who need them. Until protections are enshrined in reality and men learn not to rape and kill us based on our biological sex, these spaces are essential in providing safe and inclusive environments for traumatized women. If the community and the powers that be do not see you as a person worth protecting, there has to be somewhere you can go where you are.

There is no such place for women at UVic.

Given the everyday challenges and violence faced by women, it’s repugnant to think that AFTAs on campus have succeeded in removing women’s access to one of the few safe spaces they have, but that’s what has happened. In addition to opposing the Women’s Centre’s policies, this contingent has also admitted to forcing feminists out of the SUB and even calling campus security to keep them out. Despite the debate that exists around who belongs to the women movement and what it means to include women people in formerly women’s-only spaces, we’re sure that trans students, with a two-million-dollar endowment, can set up their own centre.

Martlet writers lack the feminist analysis needed to understand the problems at the Women’s Centre right now. But they should know that if you want to solve something, you shouldn’t kick the people out who you have a problem with.

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