A newbie’s guide to UVSS advocacy groups and the Board of Directors

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Reddit

For those of you who are new to UVic, or are otherwise unaware, this campus has a particularly active political culture. Aside from the UVSS board of directors, the Students’ Union Building (SUB) houses the Native Students Union and four advocacy groups. Each of these collectives advocates for specific communities who may face different sociopolitical  and cultural challenges on campus and the greater Victoria area. The common goal of each group is to create spaces on campus where students feel safe and included, as well as to provide advocacy, representation, and events. Many of the groups also provide additional on- and off-campus services to students.

Each group’s doors are open to new members, as well as to volunteers looking to assist with the continued provision of their services and resources. However, it is important to note that membership and/or participation in each of these groups is based on a student’s own self-identity, rather than outwards physical attributes. While these spaces do operate on the ideal of inclusivity, please be mindful — if you don’t identify with the group in question, be sure to ask before entering their space.

NATIVE STUDENTS UNION

Room: SUB B023

Web: uvicnsu.ca

Membership: A UVic undergrad or graduate student, or alumnus of self-identified Indigenous ancestry (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) who registers with the NSU.

According to their website, the NSU “works to empower Indigenous students to benefit from the learning experiences available at UVic.”

The union has two separate spaces on campus: one in the First Peoples House and one in the SUB. Their room in the SUB features computers, a printer, a kitchen, couches, and a small library. Throughout the school year, the NSU hosts a variety of events, from workshops and lectures to movie nights and feasts.

As a student-run collective, the main purposes of the Union are to

  • Support the academic, cultural, and spiritual growth and well-being of Indigenous students at UVic
  • Provide a safe physical space for Indigenous students and community members to gather, work, study, and network on campus
  • Represent the UVic Indigenous student community in relations with various branches of the  University and community
  • Maintain relationships of mutual respect and cooperation with other student advocacy groups
  • Support Indigenous students at UVic transitioning to postsecondary life
  • Provide culturally relevant literature and information
  • You can learn more about the NSU by reading our interview with former NSU firekeeper Blake Desjarlais, as well as one student’s experience with the NSU.

    THE THIRD SPACE

    Room: SUB B107

    Web: uvicthirdspace.com

    Membership: A self-identified woman, or non-binary, or gender-fluid person who is either a registered student, faculty, staff, alumnus, or community member at large who subscribes to the purposes of the centre.

    Formerly known as the UVic Women’s Centre, the Third Space provides various services on campus, including a safe space, for female, non-binary, and gender fluid identifying people. The space is collectively run, and the resources offered to students include: peer support, a library, workshops, health resources, a drop-in space, as well as numerous community initiatives and events throughout the year.

    The main purposes of the Third Space are to

  • Provide a self-identified women, non-binary, and gender-fluid centered physical space to facilitate networking among campus self-identified women, non-binary, and gender-fluid persons
  • Offer programs and promote issues in keeping with the centre’s mandate and vision for members and/or general public
  • Provide a central location for the distribution of information
  • Maintain a resource library for student and public use
  • The Third Space found itself amongst our pages quite a bit over the past year: it officially transitioned from the UVic Women’s Centre, saw a turnover in staffing, and temporarily closed. Read more about summer at the Third Space, and why the centre changed its name.

    UVIC PRIDE

    Room: SUB B010

    Web: uvicpride.ca

    Membership: All queer and queer-friendly registered students, faculty, and staff at UVic, as well as queer and queer-friendly community members.

    UVic Pride boasts many unique services and resources geared towards trans, queer, and intersex students on campus and members of the surrounding community. The collective hosts numerous social and advocacy events throughout the year. Some of their resources services include a lending library, resource programs (such as binders, transfeminine shoes, packers, breast forms, and safer sex supplies), a communal kitchen, and a private (gender neutral) washroom. Further services include advocacy, education, referral services, peer support, skill development, and workshops.

    The goals of the Collective are to

  • Provide ongoing, anti-oppressive education and resource development in line with the needs of queer and trans communities and the UVic Pride Collective
  • Provide safer space(s), including a broad range of accessible events, resources, and outreach
  • Provide an accessible, welcoming, anti-oppressive and safer space in the office of the UVic Pride Collective
  • Develop resources and actions aimed to eliminate all forms of oppression both within and without the UVic Pride Collective
  • Work on Collective values within a framework of anti-oppression
  • Maintain a sustainable, anti-oppressive volunteer model under which volunteers are supported by, encouraged by, and accountable to the UVic Pride Collective, and queer and trans communities
  • As with each of the other advocacy groups UVic Pride receives a small portion of student tuition fees each semester to cover resource costs. Last fall, the Collective put forth a referendum proposing a student fee increase of 74 cents per full-time student per semester (from 95 cents per full-time student). The referendum ultimately failed to pass. You can read more about it here.

    STUDENTS OF COLOUR COLLECTIVE

    Room: SUB B020

    Web: soccpage.com

    Membership: A self-identified person of colour, self-identified Indigenous person, and/or self-identified person of mixed race.

    Through awareness raising, action, and support, the SOCC works to empower people of colour by “providing resources and support to individuals and groups, and by actively working against oppression based on colonization, race, gender, class, ability, nationality, and language.” In order to do so, the SOCC provides anti-racist education and activism on and off campus.

    In fostering a safe environment on campus for self-identified persons of colour, the primary purposes of the SOCC are to

  • Maintain a library with resources open for use by all members, associate members, and members of the greater community
  • Provide financial and administrative support to new organizations and events for students of colour
  • Challenge white hegemonic spaces on campus
  • Support and defend students of colour who face exclusion, discrimination, and hatred in classrooms, administration, employment, and other campus or student organizations
  • Represent the issues of people of colour on all levels of student and administrative organizing and be present for alliance work
  • SOCIETY FOR STUDENTS WITH A DISABILITY

    Room: SUB B111

    Web: uvicssd.com

    Membership: A member of the UVSS or GSS at UVic, and who self-identifies as a person with a disability.

    The SSD promotes the full participation and inclusion of students self-identified with disabilities at UVic. The Society promotes both the accommodation of individual students on campus, as well as the “systemic changes to the University that will make post-secondary education more accessible and socially just.” Furthermore, the SSD offers a respite room in the SUB for students who find themselves in need of some peace and quiet.

    Led by self-identified students with disabilities, the five main purposes of the Society are to

  • Advocate for the full and equal participation of students with disabilities in all aspects of the UVic community
  • Raise awareness of the barriers and challenges faced by students with disabilities and make recommendations to the UVic community on ways to remove these barriers
  • Collaborate with all stakeholders of the UVic community to further the interests of students with disabilities
  • Prevent, expose, and eliminate institutional discrimination that many students with disabilities face
  • Create anti-oppressive spaces where students with disabilities can relax, socialize, and share their experiences
  • Not much has happened in the way of breaking news at the SSD in the past year (as far as we’re aware). However, they do have a number of upcoming and recurring events scheduled for this fall, such as community luncheons, morning coffee, and peer support and wellness sessions.


    The UVSS Board of Directors (BoD) is the collective decision-making body of the Students’ Society (of which you’re a member if you’re an undergrad). Are you on the student health and dental plan? The BoD is in charge of that. Want to grab a beer at Felicita’s? BoD is in charge of that. Do you use the U-Pass to ride the bus?! BoD . . . you get it. A significant number of services for undergrad students are overseen by these individuals (and UVSS staff, of course), so they’re pretty essential.

    The BoD consists of 21 elected representatives: five lead (executive) directors; eleven directors-at-large; one Director of International Student Relations; four advocacy group reps, elected by their respective memberships; and one Native Students Union rep, elected by its membership.

    The UVSS executives are (in no particular order):

    Ben Lukenchuk, Director of Outreach & University Relations

  • In charge of policy and bylaw development, legal stuff, member outreach, and talking to the university.
  • Known for talking quite fast and singing kind of okay during board meetings.
  • Can be reached at outreach@uvss.ca / 721-8360
  • Maxwell Nicholson, Director of Campaigns & Community Relations

  • In charge of external relations with government and businesses, and UVSS campaigns including TextbookBroke and Let’s Get Consensual.
  • Known for wearing the same dress shirt at board meetings as he did at his high school grad two years ago.
  • Can be reached at campaigns@uvss.ca / 721-8366
  • Emma Kinakin, Director of Student Affairs

  • In charge of student clubs, course unions, advocacy groups, and so on.
  • Known for an inclusive approach to cults operating on campus.
  • Can be reached at affairs@uvss.ca / 721-8367
  • Kevin Tupper, Director of Finance & Operations

  • In charge of money stuff, health and dental stuff, business stuff, and operational stuff.
  • Known for being very passionate about selling textbooks.
  • Can be reached at finance@uvss.ca / 472-4288
  • Jordan Quitzau, Director of Events

  • In charge of events
  • Known for allowing the hashtag #MakeUVicLitAgain out of whatever infernal committee meeting in which it was conjured up.
  • Can be reached at events@uvss.ca / 721-8369
  • The five executives, 11 directors-at-large, and one director of international student relations are elected once per academic year, in March. Last year, all but one director-at-large position went to the members of a single slate, called Encompass UVic. Michelle Brown, a member of the Woke UVic slate, won the sole non-Encompass seat. A third slate, called Unite UVic, did not win any seats on the board. (Read more about last year’s election here.)

    The BoD meets twice a month on Mondays at 6 p.m. in the SUB Upper Lounge. Meetings are open for members to attend — and you should attend! They’re usually hella dry, but every so often there’s a controversy, and who doesn’t like to be at ground zero when that happens? You also get to ask the board questions directly, which is a great opportunity to ask what they’re up to — and to keep them accountable. If you can’t make it, follow along on Twitter @TheMartlet.

    The UVSS will also host its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Oct. 27. AGMs are another opportunity for students to be heard, as the board often proposes multiple motions that shape the direction of the society for years to come, and requires students in attendance to vote. Historically, AGMs have trouble reaching quorum, so mark your calendar. (There’s usually pizza, too.)

    If you still have questions, head over to the UVSS’s website at uvss.ca. Read more of our reporting on the society here.

     

    Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Reddit