The UVSS Women’s Centre, in room B107 of the Student Union Building, near where the UVSS general office is located, was established in 1981. Although the main goals of the centre are now in the process of clarification, its historical purpose has been to provide a women-centred physical space to facilitate networking among campus women, offer programming, and promote issues in keeping with the centre’s mandate and vision for members and the general public, as well as provide a central location for the distribution of information.
“Our mission is to be a strong, feminist voice on campus,” said Alyson Kowalewsky, the communications and outreach co-ordinator of the UVSS Women’s Centre, in an email interview. “Our vision is to create social change through political action, education, and support of University of Victoria women students.”
The past achievements of this organization include building a feminist resource library for student and public use, and starting non-commercial publication “Thirdspace,” to confront racism, ableism, patriarchy, queer bashing, and colonization. The publication has put out a call for submissions and is looking for contributions on the theme “solidarity—with consent,” in advance of its April 11 deadline. The centre has also been involved with UVic in co-organizing events like the Red Umbrella Rally and the Memorial March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
The group holds an annual Panty Drive in February, which is a fundraiser for Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre and the Prostitutes Empowerment Education & Recovery Society (PEERS). For this event they look for items such as sanitary products, incontinence supplies, blankets, new socks, new panties, chocolates, and monetary donations for the organizations, which provide vital practical services for women who are socially and economically vulnerable. The centre’s most recent project has been a Racialized and Indigenous Women’s Circle that took place mid March. This event’s goal was to bring together people from various racial identities, who experience different challenges.The Women’s Centre hosts an open house event twice per year, which features fun activities such as button making, or writing out opinions on feminism and suggestions for the centre.
The best way to get involved with UVic Women’s Centre is to attend a collective meeting; these take place twice a month. There you can get to know a number of committees that are part of the centre, such as the garden committee, gender inclusion committee, outreach committee, library committee, and the Thirdspace zine committee. The centre also has a mailing list to inform people about events, including internal, broader campus, and greater community opportunities.
For more information, visit uvss.uvic.ca/wcentre.