COMMUNITY SAFETY NOTICE: Man who filmed women in Third Space women’s centre

COMMUNITY SAFETY NOTICE

Please be advised that a man named Tristan Harris (pictured below), along with another unknown man, recently filmed two women in the UVic Women’s Centre without their consent or knowledge. Tristan Harris then posted an edited version to Youtube shaming the Women’s Centre for standing against white supremacy. One of the women noticed his camera in hand and asked if he was filming them, Tristan Harris explicitly told them he was not filming them.

On Wednesday evening, June 21st, 2017 a man that has been identified as Tristan Harris  came by the Third Space women’s centre looking to discuss our poster board outside our space. Our poster board is currently featuring an anti-colonization campaign(for more on this refer to the appendix at the end of this article). If you see this man near the Student Union Building please contact the UVSS Third Space at 250-721-8353 or contact UVic Campus Security at 250-721-7599. More details on the incident below.

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Tristan Harris found two women who were studying in the Third Space women’s centre and approached them to ask questions about the poster board. He identified himself and added that he serves in the Canadian Armed Forces, and that he came to UVic to see this board after viewing a post on Facebook. Later our centre was informed from a member that a video had been posted on Youtube by Tristan Harris of the women in our space. A video that was edited and visibly showed the faces of two of our members, as well as the conversation that Tristan had engaged them in, along with his own text commentary being displayed on the screen. Our centre has assisted our members in reporting this incident to the University of Victoria Campus Security, the Saanich Police, and the Military Police.

The women were studying and trying to answer the man’s questions regarding our board. UVic, and the student society building are on private property, and regardless, we have the right to express ourselves. Tristan posted the video and incited aggression against our centre. The real irony here is that Tristan Harris serves in the Canadian Armed Forces, an organization that is intended to defend Canada’s values, interests and sovereignty at home and abroad. They support human rights around the world, including our own charter, specifically section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that protects “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication”. So it is hypocritical that a soldier with the oath of service to protect those rights, the right to express ourselves and form our own opinions, one of the essential features of a supposed democracy, desires to vilify people who are enacting those rights! Freedom of expression is an essential part of the right to dissent, and a basic feature of personal development. Now, although freedom of expression is protected, there is a delicate balance with aspects of harm. Our board is our own opinion and people may be upset by what we say, or celebrate it, or have discussions about it, but we are calling out an ideology, a polity, a social and cultural issue! We are not, as Tristan Harris has done, inciting harm against individual citizens because of their beliefs.

Among the replies on Tristan Harris’s facebook feed were people inciting that acts of arson against our centre, or a good beating! So is this what Canadian soldier’s do? Read it for yourself below.

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Appendix

Anti-colonization: As a university and advocacy group we feel it is vital to provide critical thought and lenses to things we see in our society. Canada 150 is billion dollar party for Canadians to show pride in this nation. How can we be proud of a nation that leaves so many people in disparity, a nation with an increasing disparity between the wealthy and poor, a nation that does not have clean drinking water, housing, education, employment, mental health services, health services for all? How do we support a nation that is founded on white supremacy? How do we support a nation that still benefits from the exploitation of people around world, and on its own stolen lands? Canada, as a colonizing power continues its legacy of violence, and institutions, such as this university, indoctrinates students into these contemporary colonial thinkers. Our student society is also complacement and fails to act in meaningful ways, other than boiler plate territory acknowledgements, which are rushed through at meetings.

UVSS Dir. of Finance ethics?

Recently our collective had a meeting with a few executives from the University of Victoria Student’s Society. In order to create a safe space for our members to share their stories we told the visiting UVSS execs that the meeting was confidential, a closed door meeting. The executives agreed and began our meeting. During the course of the meeting our members shared their thoughts and stories with the executives who sat quietly and listened. After the meeting we had our regular scheduled collective meeting.

A couple of days after the collective meeting one of our coordinators received an email from Mackenzie Cumberland, a UVSS board executive who had attended the closed door session stating that our meeting, our stories, were not confidential since the meeting took place in a public space (our women’s centre), and that since we are not a society, but a group within the student society, then we have no legal ability to enforce confidentiality.

Our collective is incredibly upset at this breach of our trust, and although there may not be a legal instrument to enforce confidentiality of our meetings, the principle still stands that Mackenzie Cumberland sat in our meeting, agreed to confidentiality, without any intention of maintaining that spoken agreement. This, in our opinion, is not only unethical, but is malicious, and tantamount to professional misconduct! Mackenzie Cumberland entered a verbal agreement with our collective to maintain confidentiality and she chose to disclose that information publicly without our consent. The UVSS board is aware of Mackenzie Cumberland’s actions and has yet to take any action on this matter. Mackenzie Cumberland reminded members of our collective that asked questions to the board at the last UVSS board meeting (June 12th, 2017), that the women’s centre collective has no right to expect confidentiality in any of our meetings! In essence, we were reminded that our rights are secondary to privilege of those in positions of power.