Move would see SOCC move into space VIPIRG abruptly left in the summer
The Students of Colour Collective (SOCC) has issued a formal request to the University of Victoria Student Society (UVSS) to move into room B122 of the SUB and has garnered support from various groups on campus for the proposed relocation.
SOCC, which is currently located in room B020 in the basement of the SUB, has a smaller room than all other advocacy groups and the Native Students Union on campus and has been looking for a new space for years.
One of the problems with their current room, Emily Ooh, a SOCC member, says is that the tight space puts a physical constraint on how many people the collective can welcome through their doors.
“There’s been a really high influx of students coming in here, and there’s so many people here that it’s hard for others that want to stay here because there’s no space,” Ooh said.
If SOCC is granted VIPIRG’s old room, Ooh says it would help them have space to facilitate workshops, engage students on and off campus, and give them a greater capacity to grow.
SOCC’s request is currently being reviewed by the Executive Committee, a group that helps make and document decisions of the UVSS Lead Directors.
“We had a preliminary discussion in Executive Committee on October 3 where we reviewed a formal request from SOCC for VIPIRG’s former space as well as letters supporting SOCC’s request from the Anti-Violence Project, the Martlet, the Pride Collective, the Native Students’ Union, and the Gender Empowerment Centre,” said Jonathan Granirer, UVSS Director of Outreach and University Relations, in an email interview with the Martlet.
Granirer also said in the Executive Committee meeting on Oct. 3 that they reviewed a separate request for additional space from the Campus Community Garden, who is currently sharing an office with the UVic Sustainability Project. No other advocacy group requested more space or a room transfer.
The move comes just two months after the Vancouver Island Public Research Group (VIPIRG) — the previous occupants of room B122 — terminated its lease with the UVSS and moved its offices to Fifth Street.
In August, the Martlet reported that VIPIRG relocated due to what they claimed was an increasingly unsustainable partnership with the student society.
Among the reasons the community-based research group left the SUB, VIPIRG cited a referendum called by the previous UVSS Board of Directors last spring that put the funding and future of VIPIRG in doubt. The move later failed, but was called into question by the Chief Electoral Officer who recommended a second referendum be held due to an investigation that found VIPIRG’s self-advocacy was against the UVSS’s electoral policy.
Following VIPIRG’s departure from the SUB in the summer, Granirer called it a huge loss for both the SUB and the university community. He also speculated that SOCC could be the next potential tenant for room B122, calling their current room “essentially … a large closet.”
Before finding a permanent tenant for VIPIRG’s old space, Granirer said he will consult with the SUB Occupants Committee and make a decision with the UVSS Board of Directors.
“The next step will be consulting all SUB occupants at a SUB Occupants committee [meeting] which will be called shortly,” Granirer said. “From there, the UVSS Board of Directors will make a decision on the allocation of VIPIRG’s former space if there is a clear consensus among Directors and SUB occupants. If not, we will hold an additional round of consultation.”
A SUB Occupants meeting is expected to be held next Thursday, which will include a vote on the committee’s recommendation for the occupant of VIPIRG’s old space. Granirer said he hopes that a final decision will be made by the end of November.
In the interest of transparency and objective reporting, the Martlet would like to disclose that the Editor-in-Chief sent a letter of support for SOCC’s request for a new room.