I have seen a lot of talk from folks about the statement Jamie Cassels released today about sexualized violence.
I have already posted my thoughts on it in relation to sexualized violence that has been making the news, but I would also like to acknowledge the violence that isn’t making the news…
Yesterday Uvic hosted their second “Moving Trans History Forward” conference and the reality is that along with the overwhelming rates at which sexualized violence happens- folks who hold certain identities are represented at significant rates in those stats; including queer and trans students.
Publicly, UVic is seen as a pillar of trans/queer leadership… But behind closed doors in meetings in both the SUB and Student Affairs office, Uvic has acknowledged that they have failed us when it comes to policies and procedures, while outwardly promoting Uvic as a safe place.
I would just like to name that I use Uvic as a person because certain people are representative of the institution. Some people I am referring to as #Uvicare:
-Jamie Cassels (Uvic President)
-Jim Dunsdon (The Associate VP of Student Affairs)
-Grace Wong Sneddon (Advisor to the Provost on Equity and Diversity)
-Jon Derry (Manager of Policy Development and Judicial Affairs)
-Gillian Cornwall (Positive Space Network and Student Recruitment Communications Assistant)
-Valerie Kuehne (Vice-President Academic and Provost)
-Aaron Devor (The World’s First Trans Chair).
Almost 9 months ago, some of these folks (Jim, Jon, and Grace) promised to release a statement that would speak to what a bunch of us have been saying ever since the crosswalk was painted- It is not enough.
They have not followed through on this promise- because it would undermine their credibility as a queer friendly campus. In fact, they were the ones to suggest a public media statement and then dragged the meetings on for months with no follow-through on the original promise.
Instead, they got recognized for having the first ever trans chair and then proceeded to blatantly lie and twist the truth about policies, services, and amenities.
In doing so, they chose to ignore the violence they have had an active hand in, and covered it up by glossing over the concerns with pretty half-truths that make people want to feel feel warm, fuzzy, and proud about, while cashing in well over a million dollars in these last 9 months, specifically because they are publicly known for being a trans-friendly institution.
(Although, now I can see how a public statement would impact this immense amount of funding and if I cared more about money than people, I wouldn’t release the promised statement either….)
By doing this, they have sent the message to the greater campus community that those ‘few activists’ are unfounded and hysterical…. I don’t think it is hysterical to demand safety on a campus that presents itself as safe. I have been stalked, harassed, sexually assaulted, threatened, trolled, and doxxed all during my time at University of Victoria, but mostly after I first started speaking out about the hypocrisy uvic has displayed in regards to safety.
I transferred to Uvic from a small University on the mainland because it was promoted as safe, progressive, and inclusive…. I transferred here with a perfect GPA and a lot of excitement and hope. I now am no longer in classes, not registered for an upcoming semester and wondering why I spent thousands of dollars to be threatened and harassed all last semester (which conveniently started after Gillian Cornwall made a post about the crosswalk protest on her social media that did not even closely represent what happened- inciting students who didn’t know the full story.)
This really gets me because when reading the statement released today- it still effectively washes over the reality of violence on campus and the university’s complicity in that violence. It ignores the fact that those who have been speaking out against violence are receiving severe backlash from trolls and uniformed students who look to the university and hear radio silence, effectively saying “We wont stop you”…. Hell, they wont even report it in their crime stats…
The worst part in reading Cassels statement, is knowing the only reason they have released the statement is to try to ‘get ahead’ of the criticism that is making waves in both media and government.
It is gross and the reality is that it again tokenizes those who’ve experienced violence while managing to still come out looking like they are compassionate leaders in these conversations.
I am tired of being hurt at Uvic and then being exploited by Uvic.
I want real actual change. I want to feel safe on campus and know that if I experience violence it will be statistically counted, I will be offered a multitude of supports, and I will have specific policies in place to protect me.
Anything less is an utter failure.