2013-2014 YEAR-END BOARD REPORT
Gender Issues Centre
Jayal Chung, GiC Coordinator
Staff: Sue McLean, Librarian and Hannah Brunklaus, Volunteer and Campaigns
Main Objectives and Operations
I approached this year by being action-oriented, responsive, and focused on strong programming efforts (initiatives, campaigns, events) with student’s needs and schedules in mind as best as possible. I am informed by feminist activism and directors’ work before me, but also took a fairly intuitive and personal approach to the centre. My focuses as coordinator:
Services and support for students:
- Resource centre: library, individualized peer support, referral and services, brochures
- Campaigns, events, discussion groups
- Residence House Talks, providing support to Residence Assistants
- Encouraging student participation by sponsorship e.g. Women and Politics etc.
- Regular communication by email, Facebook etc. e.g. introducing events on and off-campus, volunteer and job opportunities etc.
- Pads, tampons, dental dams, male and female condoms, diva cups, lube
- Give & Take Table: gently-used clothing, household items etc.
- Feminist Yarns
Initiatives and Themes:
- Encourage nonviolent action by spurring reflection, communication, dialogue
- Awareness, educational, outreach and engagement efforts
- Art and activism: dialogue, informed and critical engagement
- Awareness about violence against women, gender-based violence
- Shaping dialogue around consent, sexual assault and addressing rape culture; sex-positive, queer, feminist perspectives
- Policy input to Task Force; student input by Working Group
- Anti-oppressive framework; LGBTQ+ rights and building a safer and inclusive community
- Community organizing, coalition building: on-campus and off-campus collaborations
- Responding to issues in community, on and off-campus; petition, letter-writing, participation in rallies, community conversations and other events
I’m grateful to have two highly supportive and dedicated staff, each with their own set of skills and passions to share and help make the Gender Issues Centre a welcoming, resourceful and safe space for everyone. I’m passionate, very involved and enjoy collaborative work and so invested in the things I choose carefully to participate in so having Sue and Hannah to help carry the momentum and support the centre programming is foundation to sustainable outreach and awareness work. I really enjoy getting to know students and helping people who access the centre to use the resources and facilitate new connections, new positive experiences and learning opportunities for everyone. I was thrilled to learn as I go, adapt, and really appreciate being able to apply and share skills from EGALE, CFS, Ontario Human Rights Commision in particular and to do, help facilitate, organize, give input for speakers and work with Residence staff, professors and students alike to help make things they want to see– happen. I love to share and influence public dialogue on social justice issues.
The most recent example of the impact of art and activism, collaborative partnership is organizing a special art exhibition with Definitely Superior Art Gallery. It is a first for the community, and a great way to have celebrated International Women’s Day. I proposed the idea on short-notice to Lora, David and Renee (longstanding relationship with GiC as well as with me, personally) and it took off and secured Sophia Wallace to create new works which also carry-forward into Urban Infill– transforming downtown empty buildings into temporary galleries. It was a great example of the importance or accessible events, hunger within the community for social change, collaboration and coalition building (Poverty Free Thunder Bay, Labour Union, Die Active, Metis Nation Ontario) feminism, collective memory, dialogue, creative expression etc.
Though sometimes within LUSU we all experience a level of disconnect from each other, I feel supported and always willing to share ideas and time and energy to learn more and how to best serve student constituency groups, especially those student needs and gaps that do exist. I feel honoured to have held this position and really love the work I get to do and take on.
Coalition Building and Community Involvement
- Strong collaboration with centres, especially Pride Central and Aboriginal Awareness Centre
- Student Health & Counselling, Health & Wellness, Social Work, Women’s Studies, professors, English Student Association, The Artery etc.
- Melody McGregor, Thunder Bay District Health Sciences Centre: she has introduced me to a number of committees in the community organizing for awareness and work around violence against women
- Northern Woman’s Bookstore
- Women and Politics
- Poverty Free Thunder Bay
- Centre des Femmes Francophone
- Die Active and Definitely Superior Art Gallery
- Thunder Bay District Health Unit, Thunder Bay AIDS, Thunder Bay Catholic Family Development
- Full Moon Memory Walk, ONWA, Walking With Our Sisters, Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre
- Chronicle Journal and Ontario Press Council
- Thunder Pride
- the Other 10% Youth Group (LGBTQ+)
- Hate Crime Awareness Committee, and respect.
- EGALE Human Rights Trust and Canadian Federation of Students
- LU Radio and Argus
Campaigns, Events, Initiatives
If you’d like more details, please ask. I can present posters for the full year, September 2013-April 2014.
Here is a summary of highlights:
Dis-Orientation: Took lead on organizing a successful Kick-Off Party and each centre had their own special activity for the week. At our GiC Open House, we had a facilitated discussion on Anti-Oppression.
Take Back The Night: Record attendance. Take Back the Night’s timing coincided with the letter by the young woman, ‘University doesn’t take seriously’ so I leveraged the momentum of that.
Tabling, postering, in-person conversations, guerilla postering under admin. office doors
Take Back The Night was a fullhouse with amazing speakers and I believe had powerful impact and sense of community and united students, staff, and so many members from the community. Atleast 150+ attended. The President, Dr. Stevenson, Dr. Lori Chambers, and Marian RyksSzelekovszky were present and I invited them to make a statement. Displays: Faceless Dolls, Clothesline, The Wall Project, White Ribbon and candlelighting, community organizations had tables too. Collaboratively worked with Pride Central and brought Holly Painter as a special guest to perform at Take Back the Night; then she also did a spoken word poetry workshop and students got up and shared their own or favourite works. We were also on LU Radio’s The Scoop.
LUSU Statement written and Statement by President and sent to all students. Proposed operational policy, communication process for student centre coordinators and talked with VP Student Issues. Task Force formed and ensured student representation.
Potty Talk: created paperpotties and space for positive graffiti to raise awareness about trans* rights, Transgender Day of Remembrance and gender violence in washrooms.
Getting people to think about privilege. Creative tabling effort with Pride
- Speaker for Pride’s Transgender Day of Remembrance
- Wrote a column in Chronicle Journal: trans* rights, privilege, followup on ‘Sexual rights and public norms’; CJ published a clarification statement but no apology.
Artist Talk Q + A with Elizabeth Buset: painting that was purchased for GiC but put in storage. Brought it back and had a great talk and opportunity for dialogue between Althea (former director 20122013) and I facilitated the group discussion. Great basis to continue to make spaces and connection between art and activism.
16 Days of Activism: 16 Days of Activism Campaign
Challenged myself to take action by focusing on tabling, talks, letter-writing, poetry in public places, collecting signatures for two petitions, and participating in and bringing awareness to events that community organizations hosted too; focused on taking small actions and encouraging reflection on gender violence and shifting attitudes toward how one can participate in helping to create a safer and inclusive community.
- Created an info/resource sheet for tabling
- Letter to faculty and staff as invitation to December 6 Memorial Service and info about the Rose and White Ribbon Campaign
- White Ribbon Campaign with TBDHU, Catholic Family Development and AIDS TBay; presentation at Sir Winston Churchill and Pope John Paul on November 25
- Small Change Lunch Sustainability: attended and participated in collecting signatures for Poverty Free Thunder Bay/Raise the Minimum Wage Campaign
- Organized talk videoconferenced to Orillia: Tackling rape culture by Gerald Walton and Jake Beaudrow
- Hospice Northwest Annual Candlelight Vigil – Poetry reading
- Organized December 6 Memorial Service; great participation from community groups and students, faculty/staff; Lakehead Elementary School Teachers (cake) and Centre des Femmes Francophone, Aboriginal Awareness Centre (Faceless Dolls and Walking With Our Sisters); screened a short video at end and short discussions
- Focused postings on Facebook
Internationally, the 16 day period includes:
November 25:International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
November 29:International Women Human Rights Defender Day
December 1:World AIDS Day
December 3:International Day of Disabled Persons
December 6:The Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.
December 10:International Human Rights Day
Campaign promoting love, kindness, selfcare week before Reading Week
- Created and distributed a selfcare zine that includes GiC safety card, ideas, affirmations,
- Sue lead a very successful workshop for making bathboms and salt soak and scrubexfoliator
- FREE HUGS Campaign with Pride Central and a student volunteers in Agora: affirmations, info, chocolates and VDay bookmark and postcards
- Created a zine and distributed: Intro to AntiOppression alongside AntiO Valentine Card
Sexual assault and rape culture awareness
- organized a Tea and Talk with outreach nurse Melody McGregor: services at TBRHSC; intimate circle of attendees from different disciplines and many questions and good discussion
- Melody joined me and Jake and Sarah of Pride to work with Residence Assistant Amanda to present to all houses on rape culture, consent and gender violence; we also shared personal experiences and Melody and I brought resource brochures to share
- Task Force student working group and giving update and feedback; Open Forum
- Tackling Rape Culture Requires a Team Effort: videoconferenced to Orillia. Great attendance from faculty, staff, and students on November 27. Dr. Gerald Walton and Jake Beaudrow.
Tabling, outreach, engagement: Take A Seat and Make A Friend, Potty Talk, Health and Wellness, Free Hugs, class talks; writing and performing poems
e.g. International Development Week by MCC
- Social Justice Day: Sex Workers’ Rights poster board and tabling by Carly and Hannah
- Faceless Dolls Project lead by Helen (Aboriginal Awareness Centre) and Charmaine (VPSI) at Ecole Gron Morgan
- Task Force: Continued efforts to work closely with administration on awareness, education, training and engagement of campus community and holding each other accountable to create a supportive environment for survivors and to address sexual assault and rape by addressing all forms of discrimination
- Peer Support of all student centres
- Expand budget line for all student centres: condoms and lube. For Food Bank and Gender Issues Centre: condoms, lube, tampons and pads.
- An Exec. Member e.g. VP Issues, or VP Finance order bulk from CFS to access discount for condoms, lube etc.
- Determine a standard process regarding decisions about space: transparency and resolution achieved by communication by affected parties
- Bi-Weekly Meetings between VP Issues and centre-coordinators continued
- Re-hiring Sue McLean and Hannah Brunklaus who have been loyal, dedicated and hard-working colleagues.
- To support Food Bank operations, as discussed with VP Finance, Gender Issues Centre budget lines could be reduced: Resources between $500-$750 is ok and first preference. Campaigns $500 would be ok.