5 Days of Action brings awareness to inclusion on campus

Campus News
UVic’s new 5 Days of Action initiative. Photo via UVic

The “5 Days of Action; 365 Days of Commitment” is a five-day event on campus that UVic hopes will engage the community in a dialogue to end discrimination, harassment, and sexualized violence. Organized by UVic’s Equity and Human Rights Office (EQHR), the five-day movement runs from March 19–23 and includes interdisciplinary events like workshops, panels, art exhibits, and theatre performances.

The main thing students will notice around campus during the week are the art installations. Students should expect to see brightly painted shoes displayed with a hashtag, #ShoesToAct, in the middle of the campus’ high-traffic areas. The colorful shoes are meant to symbolize individual “steps” that need to be taken towards a more inclusive community.

These symbolic “steps” also connect with the event’s five calls to action: listening, reflecting, dialogue, engagement, and solidarity. It emphasizes a logical sequence of steps to show people how they can make a meaningful commitment to inclusivity.

“It’s really exciting to see the campus community come together, collaborating around such an important set of issues that impact everyone,” Shumka points out.

Leah Shumka is the Sexualized Violence Education and Prevention Coordinator at EQHR.

“There’s a level of fun to it,” Shumka says. “There’s a real strong intellectual engagement on the topics [and] there’s a really strong social justice forum happening, just because all different people engage with these topics differently. For some it’s really fresh and new, and so we want to have that really intro level content, and [have it get] more and more complex and sophisticated.”

The week’s events were based on the idea of encouraging courageous conversations and focusing on a call to action. The intersectional, campus-wide movement aims to address topics such as race and ethnicity, sex and gender, disability, sexuality, and religious affiliation.

A complete list of all the events throughout the week can be found on the EQHR website and their relevant social media sites. The most notable of the events are a restorative justice event at the First People’s House, a panel on how religion can contribute to human rights and social justice, different theatre performances on immigrant journeys and invisible disabilities, and the eye-catching public art installations.

Many departments around campus are actively participating in the events and bringing an awareness of the issues to their respective areas.

“It’s really exciting to see the campus community come together, collaborating around such an important set of issues that impact everyone,” Shumka points out.

The five days also coincides with the university’s Friday evening keynote, “The ‘T’ is not Silent”, held on March 23. The keynote speaker is Andrea Jenkins, the first openly transgender black woman elected to public office in the U.S.

The university’s goal for the week is to call people to action, open meaningful dialogue, and inspire long-term commitment to addressing barriers to inclusion. This is the 5 Days of Action’s first year, and Shumka hopes it grows into an all-encompassing event on campus.

“In the future, we envision campus-wide immersion,” she says. “We’d like to have each unit, department, and faculty renew their ongoing commitment to address discrimination, harassment, and violence head on, so the campus community feels safe, inclusive, and respectful for everyone.”