UPDATE: Third Space closes as coordinators take temporary leave

Campus News

UPDATE — June 26: The Third Space has reopened its doors on Thursday, June 23, after the community debrief on June 22. The Third Space website and social media channels have also been reactivated.

Nadia Hamdon, Third Space finance and administration coordinator, announced in an email to the collective that the Third Space would be scheduling a second community brief, the date of which will be determined on Friday, July 1 at 4 p.m.

ORIGINAL STORY: The Third Space — formerly known as the UVSS Women’s Centre — has provided self-identifying women in the UVic community a learning resource and safe space for years. But for the past several days, its doors have been locked, leaving those outside asking for an explanation.

The centre reportedly closed its doors on Tuesday, June 7. The Third Space’s website has also been made private, and all social media accounts have been deactivated.

On June 9, an email was sent to collective members to inform them that the centre would be closed, and its two coordinators put on leave. A copy of that email is currently taped to the Third Space door, but offers no specific explanation for the centre’s closure, saying only that questions and concerns about “the closure of the centre, hiring, recent incidents, or any related matter will be addressed at the [community debrief] meeting.”  

The full email is included below. A community debrief has been scheduled for Wednesday, June 22 at 4 p.m. in the Third Space.

The Martlet reached out to both Kay Gallivan, the Third Space outreach and communication coordinator, and Nadia Hamdon, Third Space finance and administration coordinator, to explain the centre’s closure.

Gallivan said that she would “speak to the issues of the centre and temporary closure from [her] perspective at the meeting.”

Hamdon could not be reached for comment.

We also contacted Dale Robertson, UVSS general manager, for comment, but were sent a response from Ben Lukenchuk, UVSS director of outreach and university relations.

Lukenchuk said that the UVSS has been “supporting staff and members of the Third Space who have brought concerns to us the past several weeks,” and that they “respect the decision to close the space until the Third Space collective is able to meet and debrief.”

Lukenchuk could not comment, however, on the nature of those concerns as they are directly personnel-related.

The UVSS has no current plans to provide interim access to the space while Third Space coordinators are on leave. Lukenchuk did say, however, that members with belongings still in the centre can contact the general office for access to retrieve them. Tampons, condoms, and other menstrual products will still be made available as well.  

Sara May Bhandar, UVic Pride board representative to the UVSS, says that if folks need a space to use, the Pride room is open and “community members are welcome to use the kitchen and study space while the Third Space is closed.”

Kenya Rogers, Anti-Violence Project (AVP) team leader, told the Martlet that the AVP office has recently reopened, and that “if folks need support, we’re here.”

Update: June 16: The Third Space community debrief has been scheduled for June 22 and 4 p.m. in the Third Space centre.

This story is still developing. Stay tuned to the Martlet for further updates. If you are involved with the Third Space and have more information, please contact us at edit@martlet.ca.

Full email statement from the Third Space, dated Friday, June 9:

Due to conflicts of schedule for people who want to attend the community debrief about recent incidents and hiring in the center, we are going to pick a new time for the meeting.
It is important to us that this meeting is accessible for all those who want to attend.

Please see the attached doodle poll and fill it out as soon as possible. http://doodle.com/poll/f9tsh5naw32b9sq9

Based on the responses of the doodle poll we will be selecting a time for the meeting on thursday, June 16th, 2016. This will be the deadline for responses.

Dr Annalee Lepp, chair of the Gender Studies Department, will now be facilitating the meeting

All other collective meetings are postponed until after the community debrief. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Until we have this meeting the center will be closed and coordinators will be on leave.

If you have any personal belongings in the space, please contact Dale Robertson at uvssgm@uvss.ca or Erin Ewart at execdir@uvic.ca.

The Third Space has been working on a mural project in partnership with Women in Need for the last eight months. Because this community partnership is important to us, the mural project will continue as planned in July.

Questions and concerns about the closure of the center, hiring, recent incidents, or any related matter will be addressed at the meeting.

Please see the following list of community resources that are available until we have this meeting and can re-open the space.

Anti-Violence Project
Counselling Services
Equity and Human Rights Office
Equity & Outreach
Gender Studies Reading Room
Judicial Affairs
Let’s get Consensual
Native Students Union
Office of Indigenous Affairs
Positive Space Network
Safety Coordinators
Students of Colour Collective
Society for Students with a Disability
UVic Pride

Jen Storey, Person’Elle Committee Rep

Correction June 15: A previous version of this article said the Third Space provided feminine hygiene products to members. We have corrected the article to say it provides menstrual products. We regret the error.

Correction June 17: Due to an editing error, we left out Nadia Hamdon’s full name and title, Finance and Administration Coordinator, in a previous version of this article. We regret the error.