By Anne Kessler, updated from “The Top 10 Talon-Approved Initiatives on Campus” by Urooba Jamal
Do you find yourself rapidly muttering expletives under your breath every time you engage in any type of mainstream media? Have the phrases “in solidarity with,” “hegemonic,” and “social construct” come to replace filler words like “um” and “like” in your daily lexicon? Is there a collective groan from your closest comrades every time you say “that was so problematic”? Do their groans become more pronounced when you call them comrades? Do you fantasize endlessly about the radical restructuring of our current social, economic and political orders? Have you found yourself yelling “viva la revolución!” in the mirror by yourself? Are you longing for a space where you can meet like-minded people to promote your **“reverse-racist/misandrist/feminist-killjoy/commie/environmental-vegan-hippie-shit” agenda? Or are you simply trying to find your beloved club or resource group in the behemoth that is the AMS Student Nest/New SUB?
Well, you’re in luck! There are many places right here at UBC to cultivate such aspirations. Or even learn if you’re new to all of this. Below is a list of the Top 16 Talon-Approved Initiatives on Campus. Many of these organizations will have booths at Imagine Day or Clubs day, so you can check them out in person then!
1. AMS Resource Groups
The AMS Resource Groups are student-run and aim to support and showcase the diverse backgrounds of their memberships. Located in room 2102 of the AMS Nest (New SUB), there is also a shared lounge space for folks to hang out in. Did you know they also provide funding opportunities? Contact one of these groups to find out more! Some of these resource groups include:
The Women’s Centre
The Women’s Centre is getting relaunched this year, and provides safe space to chill or study in between or after classes for all women (cis and trans) as well as gender non-conforming folk. They also run events revolving around feminism and programming, including a new sexual assault support group. A highlight at the end of last year was a protest organized calling on UBC’s administration to acknowledge that rape happens on campus and to take concrete action.
The Social Justice Centre (SJC)
The SJC serves as an organizing and research space for activists and advocates at UBC. They work towards progressive social change by raising awareness about social justice issues and fostering students with the techniques to engage in activism. UBC activist legends have it that the most dramatic cases of resistance on campus have occurred with the help of this leftist student hub.
Pride Collective at UBC
The Pride Collective offers educational and social services applicable to sexual and gender diversity to the UBC community. They also provide support to those who self identify as asexual, bisexual, gay, intersex, lesbian, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, queer, questioning, those who do not identify and allies. Down with the cis-tem!
Colour Connected Against Racism
Created in 1994 to fight institutional and other forms of racism on campus, Colour Connected organizes various events on issues pertaining to Indigenous people and people of colour. After a few years, this group has undergone a revival — look out for ways to get involved with resisting racism on campus!
2. First Nations House of Learning at the Longhouse
Located in the Longhouse, the House of Learning directs many initiatives designed specifically for First Nations students including advocacy services, advising, counseling and support services. The House of Learning also hosts a free weekly Tuesday lunch for First Nations students and students interested in engaging in First Nations issues.
Sprouts is a non-profit and volunteer-run café on campus bringing organic, local and fair trade food to UBC students. Their two most popular initiatives include Community Eats, a by-donation lunch on Fridays, and The Sprouts Box, an on-campus fresh produce delivery service. Both will rock your socially-and-environmentally-conscious tastebuds! Seedlings – ‘an offshoot of sprouts’ – is a cafe on the top floor of the Thea Koerner Graduate Centre that specializes in raw, vegan, and healthy vegetarian food. Because it’s 100% student volunteer-run, prices are affordable, making it one of the best study spots on campus!
4. RAGA (Race, Autobiography, Gender, and Age) Student Network
RAGA is an informal, independent, and volunteers-run group that strives to centre and support Indigenous students and students of colour, recognizing that racialized students face additional barriers in the academic institution. Working collaboratively with community organizations to promote social justice, RAGA organizes conferences, workshops and other public events. Sign up for the mailing list to stay informed about events, as well as activism and other calls to action in the city!
5. Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC)
SASC is working towards creating a safer campus through “supporting survivors of all sexual orientations and all genders, including women, trans* people, and men.” They provide both short-term emotional support services and also frequently hold workshops and events. This year they are piloting a new program on healthy masculinities. A great way to get involved is to apply to be an outreach or office volunteer – applications are due on September 11th at 5pm! Smashing patriarchy by centering survivorship!
This group is inspired by the global climate movement fostered by 350.org and strongly support aggressive global and national action to address the climate crisis. One of their biggest campaigns is Divest UBC, urging UBC to divest from fossil fuels. Thanks to the group’s efforts, 76.9% of student voters in the 2014 AMS elections were in support of divesting, as well as 62% of professors in a February 2015 referendum. Stay tuned for the next stages of their campaign and their continuing quest for climate justice!
7. The Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at the UBC Farm
The Centre for Sustainable Food Systems “integrates interdisciplinary academic, community, and production programs to explore and exemplify healthy and sustainable food systems.” The farm itself is 24 hectares of integrated farm and forest lands. Managed by the Centre, both of these programs seek to explore and model themselves around new paradigms of sustainable communities through research, community engagement and food production.
8. Cinema Politica
Cinema Politica UBC, a part of the larger Cinema Politica network, “showcases documentaries that critically engage in social, environmental, economic and gender issues.” Presenting independent voices in the film community and animating discussions, their events are free and open to everyone. Be sure to check out the next featured documentary at the Norm Theatre!
9. Solidarity For Palestinian Human Rights UBC (SPHR)
SPHR is a non-profit student-based organization established on the principles of social justice that advocates upholding the rights of Palestinians in “the face of human rights violations and all forms of racism, discrimination, misinformation and misrepresentation.” Their work involves awareness-raising, advocacy, non-violent direct actions, and the promotion of Palestinian identity, culture and history. Last year they successfully brought forward a student referendum on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), which saw 61% of students vote in favour, but failed to reach quorum. Watch out for their biggest event later in the year, Israel Apartheid Week, that aims to shed light on Israeli settler colonialism, occupation and apartheid.
10. The Terry Project
The Terry Project is a game-changing initiative at UBC. A cross-faculty program that aims to “educate undergraduate students on pressing global issues like climate change, poverty, conflict and disease”, they consistently host engaging events centered around these topics and beyond. Check out the weekly Terry Podcast, “Cited” – a radio show that critically engages with local and international issues – and their BarTalks events, where they host panels discussing current events and controversial topics. Watch out for the TEDxTerry Talks happening this October — applications for speakers will be coming soon!
11. The Dr. Simon K.Y Lee Global Lounge and Resource Centre
The Global Lounge aims to provide a space for students and student groups to engage on international and multicultural topics. As well as hosting great events ranging from movie nights and soccer games to discussions and panels, they give out funding for student groups aiming to do engage on these issues.
12. Bike Co-Op
The Bike Co-Op is a space created to help students and the wider community learn about bikes and bike repair in their Bike Kitchen. They also “engage in cycling education, outreach and advocacy to promote biking as a safe and sustainable means of transportation.” They recognize the ways bike shops can be intimidating and inaccessible spaces, and aim to combat this through their programming, such as their monthly Women and Queer nights. They also refurbish and sell used bikes, and run the Yellow and Purple campus bike share program.
13. Departmental Student Societies
Though the primary focus of any departmental club will be the students in their department, many run social and academic events and programming that are open to all students. A few that have a particular social justice focus have been included below.
Indigenous Law Students’ Society
ILSA provides a platform for indigenous students and non-indigenous students who wish to learn more about Aboriginal law to come together for educational and social activities. They also have a Speaker Series, which works towards their goal of increased Indigenous awareness. A must for law students and prospective law students alike!
Geography Students’ Association
The Geography Students’ Association is a departmental club that is well known for its Bzzr gardens and nerdy trivia. As a department that’s overrepresented in its’ hippies and Marxists, you’re sure to meet some new friends while pulling up weeds in the GeoGarden, at one of their sustainability events, or editing student papers in the Trail Six undergraduate journal.
First Nations Studies Student Association (FNSSA)
FNSSA’s focus is the academic study of indigenous issues and aims “to create dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples around issues that effect Indigenous communities on campus, in Vancouver, in Canada, and across the world.” With InSA (see below), they organized this year’s First Annual Pow Wow. Also check out their Undergraduate Journal and Blog that showcases the written and creative works by Indigenous and non-Indigenous students in the First Nation and Indigenous Studies program. Finally, they manage the UBC Needs Decolonization page where students share and discuss indigenous issues and decolonization.
Gender Race and Social Justice (GRSJ) Student Association
The GRSJSA, on top of organizing events for students in their program, plans and executes the ambitious annual F-Word Conference, which focuses on feminism, activism and community and “showcases student research and community collaboration across activist and academic disciplines.” The conference happens at the end of the year, so there’s lots of time to prepare a presentation or paper!
14. Feminist Club
Started out of the UBC Needs Feminism Facebook page last year, the Feminist Club is one of UBC’s newest social justice focused places on campus. It started with a bit of a bang of controversy but the club is now running smoothly to promote feminism on campus!
15. Indigenous Students’ Association (InSA)
The Indigenous Students’ Association is a social and cultural club on campus that aims to bring increased awareness to and celebrate Indigenous culture while building a sense of community. Along with FNSSA (see above), they organized a hugely successful, first annual Pow Wow on campus in the spring of 2015. Keep an eye out for another one this year!
16. AMS Speakeasy
AMS Speakeasy provides drop-in, non-judgmental peer support for students facing many types of challenges. They’re great at knowing other resources on campus and are always a great place to start looking for help. They’re currently taking applications for volunteers, so don’t miss the deadline of midnight on September 8th!
…and last, but not least, The Talon affirms that The Talon is indeed a place to meet rad people, duh. In all seriousness, there are many involvement opportunities for folks interested in writing critically about UBC-related news. If you’d like to submit a piece, check out our submission guidelines and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For visual design and all other opportunity inquiries, feel free to email us too!
Viva la revolución!
**ordained by none other than the PC Police™