DSU Women’s Collective replaces Women’s Centre after three-year absence
By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter
Douglas College is a place where students can freely express their opinions and experiences in the hopes of learning to grow and develop on a deeper level.
A safe space that took pride in their development was the Women’s Centre, funded by the college, which included support groups, workshops, and events (especially for students who identified as female). However, with the demand for an expanded health and exercise area, the Wellness Centre was introduced in 2013—thus taking over the space previously used by the Women’s Centre. Iman Abdulla, DSU Women’s Representative, and Prabh Hundal, DSU Member-at-Large, saw a void that needed to be filled.
This semester, Abdulla and Hundal worked together to bring students a new version of a beloved and previously active group, which they called the DSU Women’s Collective.
“The DSU Women’s Collective is a group for any student interested in women’s issues, and in creating a community that is inclusive and supportive of equality on campus and in society,” said Abdulla. “There are many issues ranging from pay equality, to reproductive rights, and safe spaces and access to services and education that the collective will work on together.”
Abdulla noted that the former Women’s Centre was vibrant with dedicated staff, student staff, and programming for many years, but as time passed, staffing was reduced until there was no longer any designated faculty in the extracurricular department.
“This was a concern for students, staff, and faculty—and while there was nothing we could do to get the space back (a decision of Douglas College), a few students got together and created the DSU Women’s Collective,” said Abdulla.
“[Since] we don’t know if a Women’s Centre will be created again in the future, we want to make sure that a space to organize and discuss important issues about women still exists. We are excited to have gathered a lot of interest from both women and men [in the process of] building a strong collective.”
Recently, the DSU Women’s Collective participated in the Women’s Personal Safety workshop, their first event. The workshop, provided by the Vancouver Police Department Women’s Safety Team, was deemed a success with over 30 participants. In the future, the collective hopes to host a few speakers to talk about women’s issues.
The collective also hopes to spread awareness on consent through campaigns and events around National Day of Action Against Violence Against Women (December 6), and International Women’s Day (March 8). Douglas College is currently developing an on-campus sexual assault response and policy that the collective hopes to provide feedback on.
“I think the existence of this club is really important, especially for women, since we do not have a [designated] Women’s Centre anymore,” noted Hundal.
“Not all students take Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies (WSGR) classes in which women’s issues—such as feminism in our society—are discussed, and it is important that all students have the ability to access a space where these topics and experiences are shared. We have come a long way to [come closer to] equality, but we still face many issues, such as gender-based violence, pay inequality, barriers to education, sexism, and misogyny in our society.”
Hundal takes pride in introducing the DSU Women’s Collective to the student body because of her passion to educate others on topics that might not be discussed in most classes. Her attendance in a WSGR class ignited her spirit to spread awareness to any students willing to lend an ear. For those interested in joining, Abdulla and Hundal urge students to reach out on Facebook.
“The DSU Women’s Collective is just getting started, and we hope to create a good foundation for it to grow in the future,” Hundal said.