Letter to the UVic Administration re: Choice Chain

At our November 3 Collective Meeting, UVic Pride members voted to send a letter to UVic’s VP Student Affairs Jim Dunsdon, expressing our concern over an upcoming event, “Choice Chain”.

November 4, 2011

TO: Jim Dunsdon, VP Student Affairs, UVic
CC: Rachel Raugh, Human Rights Advisor – Complaints, Equity and Human Rights, UVic
David Turpin, President, UVIc
Jenn Bowie, Director of Student Affairs, UVSS
Tara Paterson, Chairperson, UVSS

Dear Mr. Dunsdon,

We are writing to you on behalf of UVic Pride to express our concerns over the upcoming “Choice Chain” event to be hosted by UVic Students’ Society Club Youth Protecting Youth. As you are likely aware, the event consists of large billboards featuring what are said to be images of aborted fetuses.

UVic Pride is an advocacy group for queer and trans* students on campus. As such, we operate under an anti-oppressive framework and endeavour to create safer spaces on campus. This event is a gross violation of both.

Graphic, upsetting images such as the ones utilized by the “Choice Chain” campaign are emotionally triggering and create a threatening environment that is unsafe for many members of the UVic community, including those who have had abortions, are considering having abortions, or may have abortions in the future. The “Choice Chain” campaign forces students to see triggering images by occupying a high traffic area that is difficult to avoid. Students have no other option but to be confronted by graphic imagery that demonizes accessing a safe, legal, necessary health service. Allowing “Choice Chain” at UVic will create intimidation and hostility on campus, and is not conducive to maintaining the safe learning environment that we would like UVic to be.

Queer rights activism is based on the foundation of bodily autonomy and self-determination – the belief that individuals have a right to control their bodies and make informed decisions about their lives, and that gender and sexual expression and identity are a part of that. “Choice Chain” seeks to convince people that exercising the legal right of bodily autonomy is a human rights violation. UVic Pride believes that individuals have the right to make choices about their reproductive capacities and to access the services needed to support these choices. We also believe that this campaign is a manifestation of broader ideologies that support the control and regulation of bodies – something we are mandated to advocate against.

Given the safety concerns expressed above, we would ask that you not allow “Choice Chain” to be exhibited at UVic.

Sincerely,

UVic Pride Collective Coordinators