Attention legal eagles: Females have human rights

The Martlet editors won’t let us reply to the anti-feminist propaganda they published, but  interested parties can read about the basis of our human-rights claim here.

Our claim is based in part on the BC Human Rights Code and the case of Vancouver Rape Relief vs. Kimberly Nixon.

Follow us on Twitter for more on this and a variety of topics from our stellar Twitter team.

 

 

 

 

Third Space advocacy group allegedly misused funds, harassed feminists

UVic Womyn is calling for financial disclosure and an end to harassment of feminists at the former Womens’ Centre in the wake of a “take-over” of women’s space.

The feminist group is demanding the University re-open space for women only. In 1981, the UVic Women’s Centre was established as a women’s lounge and meeting space. In 2016, the collective re-branded it “Third Space” for gender-variant people, and adopted new policies that require members to subscribe to its theory of gender identity.

UVic Womyn is also challenging the Third Space collective’s decision to “donate” $3200 of its budget to former financial coordinator Daphne Shaed, a trans person who identifies as a Hindu woman.

In September, Nadia Hamdon, the new financial coordinator, quit her position without explanation and the centre is now unstaffed, according to an email from Erin Ewart, the executive director of the UVic Student Society.

“This raises a lot of questions,” said Tara Prema, researcher for UVic Womyn. “The space is for women. Student fees are collected for programs for women. Students did not vote to give thousands of dollars to an individual staffer who ‘identifies’ as a woman.”

“We are going to insist on holding Third Space and UVic Student Society accountable for these decisions.,” Prema said.

The Third Space website has not advertised any programs or services for students since May.

In summer 2016, a Third Space coordinator confronted a UVic student about her support for women’s space, and the student says the collective banned her from the centre for that reason.

“It’s no crime to have a different opinion,” says the student. “Students did not consent to converting the Women’s Centre to Third Space.”

“Both women and trans people deserve to be safe. But we have different issues. So why can’t each group have a place to meet and organize?”

UVic Womyn claim the atmosphere in the Student Union Building has become “openly hostile” toward feminists. The student points to an incident in early September during an event sponsored by the UVSS. Organizers for the Victoria Anarchist Bookfair distributed copies of a poster with names and photos of three women alleged to be part of UVic Womyn, which they called a “hate group.”

Students watched in shock as a group of bookfair organizers confronted and verbally abused a student who resembled one of the women on the poster. A bystander intervened and the student was able to get away from the group who tried to chase them down the hall of the SUB.

UVic Womyn tweeted that they are not connected to the women on the poster. Regardless, a bookfair presenter from Vancouver posted the women’s names and faces on Facebook. A second bookfair volunteer bragged about confronting the student and complained that organizers should have prevented feminists from attending the public event.

One of the women named on the poster is Erin Wallace, a UVic grad now living and teaching in Germany. Wallace had no connection with UVic Womyn at the time of the Anarchist Bookfair. She has filed a complaint with Saanich police, who are now investigating.

“It’s anti-feminist,” said Erin Wallace. “They’re trying to scare us into silence. To go to the extreme of harassing and threatening women who want to organize in the absence of men clearly represents a backlash against feminism.”

“The censoring and exclusion of feminists from the campus Women’s Centre by males and their supporters is an alarming symptom of this backlash,” Wallace said.

No staff, no programs at UVic’s Third Space

The latest news from the Third Space collective (formerly the University of Victoria Women’s Centre) comes from a source who received a letter from the collective’s governing body, the UVic Students Society. According to the letter, the staff have left or quit, and no one is currently running programs at the Third Space. Kay Gallivan’s term as Communications Coordinator has ended, and Nadia Hamdon has stepped down from her role as Finance Coordinator, the source said.

We can understand why people might distance themselves from the advocacy group, especially since it voted in August 2016 to “donate” thousands of dollars of university money to its own former Finance Coordinator, Daphne Shaed – the self-proclaimed “tranny cyborg Hindu goddess” who looks to us like a white man with a huge case of entitlement.

The Third Space collective has been in a state of chaos since it started making concessions to allow people who do not identify as women into the women’s centre. Soon after, the group changed its name to Third Space and began denouncing and banning feminists. Allegations of harassment have flown in every direction all summer.

This is the second time in four months that the space has been left unstaffed. In June 2016, the coordinators unexpectedly went “on leave” and the centre was closed for several weeks before it re-opened as Third Space. No events or programs for students or community members have been scheduled since May 2016.

The Centre’s budget is estimated at over $40,000, all of it collected from UVic students. We are still trying to find out where the group spends that money.

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.