Positively diverse and welcoming

UVic Positive Space Network in the making

By Jessica Scott, UVic Systems, Departmental Computer Support Team

PSN volunteers
PSN volunteers (Clockwise from left): Lisa Poole, Jessica Scott and Gillian Cornwall. Photo: Robie Liscomb

With the goal of supporting gender and sexual identity diversity on campus, the launch of UVic’s Positive Space Network (PSN) in February 2010 will see our campus proudly join universities across Canada like UBC, UofT and Queens with similar initiatives.

It all started in January, when after a few weeks of word-of-mouth publicity, about 40 students, faculty and staff gathered in a classroom to hear a presentation given by Pamela Brown from the Office of Equity and Human Rights. She described her vision for a network that would create safe spaces for people of all genders and sexualities across UVic, based on a research project she had done at Trent University. What motivated me to get involved in PSN was that it was truly a grassroots movement, and we had a lot of momentum right from the beginning.

The next step after our initial formation was to define ourselves. For most of the spring semester this past year, a group of people met regularly to develop what we call our “Terms of Reference,” or governing document. One of the most significant decisions was to prioritize inclusivity. The result is a network where membership is based on shared values of equality, not on personal identity.

Over the summer, our membership has been working hard to gear up for our official launch in February 2010. We are planning a week of events that will connect members of the campus community. Most importantly, the launch week will mark the official start of our regular and departmental training sessions. After having attended the training, members will display a PSN card in their work or study area, making them a visible resource for those seeking support or information about gender identity and sexual orientation issues.

Being involved with PSN has been a very rewarding experience. I am now working with people from across campus whom I would have never otherwise met—some even turned out to be in my building. I feel privileged to have a strong connection with such a talented and diverse group of people at UVic.

With support and acceptance from a community like this, our hope is that people will be able to focus more of their energy on their work and studies. We are helping to attract and retain a diverse group of people to work and study at UVic. We are also proud to be helping UVic meet the first objective of its strategic plan: to be a diverse, welcoming learning community, with a strong commitment to equity.

The PSN is currently seeking volunteers to be involved with developing the training program, planning the network launch and assisting with communications. For more information please contact the executive at psn@uvic.ca, visit the PSN website at http://web.uvic.ca/~psn and the Positive Space Network Facebook page.

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