The story is the information of the Women’s Centre’s past. We could say history, some would say herstory, however, both of those terms equal a binary. What about theystory? So, let us just call it the ‘the story.’
The women’s movement of the 1960’s and 70’s produced significant changes to the social infrastructure available for women through the development of health clinics, family support services, and advocacy centres. On-campus Women’s Centres are one example of the social support services that were established at this time.
During this time, The Women’s Action group established itself in 1973. This was an association of women from the university community who worked towards creating both the first women’s studies courses at the university and the Women’s Centre. The initial purpose of the Women’s Centre, as articulated by members of WAG, was to increase women’s participation in male professions, to create an abortion council to protect reproductive choice on campus, to disseminate knowledge through the creation of a women’s library, and to increase networking among women on campus and women in the greater Victoria community.
In 1980, WAG began lobbying the Students Society Board of Directors for a room in the Student Union Building. A Women’s Centre advisory committee was set up and it proposed that a Women’s Centre be established to act as a drop-in centre, referral service and library. Its mission was to promote women’s equality at all levels of campus life while informing the student body on issues affecting women.
The Women’s Centre was established in on February 22, 1981 out of the mandate of the Women’s Action group (WAG). Once established members of the Women’s Centre collective quickly started trying to piece together a framework of action, and an organizational structure. According to UVic archives, the early documents of the archive collection suggest that the collective experienced a great deal of difficulty navigating the bureaucratic structure of the university while attempting to maintain a non-hierarchal collective structure.
In the early years the Women’s Centre was organized around a somewhat limited mandate of tackling pre-defined Women’s issues: “Sexism, pornography, Women’s studies courses, Violence, and Health”. The current collective is able to expand from this more exclusive first wave feminist approach, to address and challenge exclusions within current feminist work.
The Women’s Centre has since evolved into an organization with it’s own paid staff, practicum students and wonderful volunteers who have collectively contributed thousands of hours to make the Women’s Centre a great place to be on campus.