WOOW Gets a FaceLIFT

KPU’s women’s collective is being rebranded this spring
Alyssa Laube, Associate Editor

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With the name Women Organizing Opportunities for Women, the perception of KPU’s feminist collective was scattered. Some wondered if it offered job opportunities or planned community events for self-identified women. Others saw it for what it was—an on-campus feminist club—or conversely, weren’t aware of its existence at all.

Now, it’s being renamed LIFT—Linking Intersectional Feminists Together—just before the debut of KPU’s first women’s centre, and its image and structure are being overhauled.

“I’ve had to go out and explain what we are instead of it being blatantly obvious,” says Natasha Lopes, WOOW chairperson and the women’s representative for the Kwantlen Student Association. “We’re becoming a visible feminist collective, is what the name is essentially doing.”

As LIFT, the collective will run and maintain the women’s centre in KPU Surrey’s Birch building. With the opening of the centre comes a milestone for feminists at KPU; they will have a safe space for meetings, socializing, and seeking support for the first time.

“It’s going be a complete 180,” says Lopes. “Because we haven’t had space on campus, we haven’t been able to tell people, ‘This is our meeting place. This is where we feel the most safe.’ [LIFT] is where we can talk about these discussions. We can actually become a stable organization on campus.”

As for structural changes to the group, LIFT will be constituted by a number of volunteers holding specific positions. After being nominated and running in an election, each volunteer will be assigned to their role through a democratic voting process. There are several positions to be filled: research coordinator, volunteer coordinator, women’s centre coordinator, rotating secretary, and the organization’s chair. An organizing committee for event planning and communications committee, which will put together a monthly newsletter and control the Facebook page for LIFT, will also need to appoint new members.

“The best way to get people involved is to give them an action item to take home—whether it’s attending a protest, collecting your feelings about a certain policy, or doing a little research—and coming back to the meeting with all of that done. That’s how you foster a real sense of community within your group,” says Lopes.

“When it came to working on outlines for volunteer positions…that all came from me asking, ‘What do you want to see the collective do? What do you want to see come out of the women’s centre?’”

The collective will also be restructuring its aims and principles to focus more on intersectionality and inclusivity. The name itself reflects that, and so will initiatives and promotional materials coming out of LIFT in the future.

Part of achieving that inclusivity is preventing LIFT from becoming hierarchal. The KSA’s women’s representative is welcomed, but not obligated or encouraged preferentially, to contribute to LIFT. By doing this, Lopes is ensuring that “in case they don’t share the same values as the collective, the collective can still run.” Anyone looking to get involved will have the opportunity to thrive as much as anyone else within the group.

The official rebranding of WOOW will be complete after the bylaws and regulations are changed at the end of March. From spring until early fall, LIFT will advertise itself to potential members, and some positions are expected to be filled by late autumn.

“I’m hoping it’ll be first and second year students that fill some of these roles, so that we can start giving back and giving them the opportunity to learn new skills, just like how myself and other people within the collective have been able to learn new skills,” says Lopes. “If anybody wants to learn how to organize, learn how to create community contacts, or just be present in the community, come and talk to me. I will always make time for people.”

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