Name: Katie Douglas
Hometown: It’s complicated. I was born in Halifax and have a lot of family here, but I grew up in Regina, Sask.
Major, year: Third year BSc. Neuroscience. I spent some time at King’s in FYP first, so it’s my fourth year of university in total.
What are the issues within the women’s community?
The biggest issue in my community is diversity and sexual assault. Encouraging a culture of consent and demanding that the university put in place good measures to support survivors of sexual assault will be crucial over the next year.
It is really easy when you’re a “Women’s Rep” to only focus on white cis-women’s issues. By that, I mean that you never run events that support or seek to empower Indigenous and women of colour on campus or only running events or campaigns about sexual assault, harassment, and consent that disregard the fact that men and LGBTQ+ folks also experience sexual violence. I’ve met so many students on campus from diverse backgrounds that don’t feel like the Union’s typical events and typical campaigns about sexual assault and consent are built for their life or experiences.
And yes, I know I am a white cis women, but I don’t think bringing more diversity into the DSU’s events and campaigns should strictly be people from minority groups’ jobs. I know from my experience in LGBTQ+ advocacy that it can be exhausting and draining to constantly be expected to advocate for your community.
If you became the women’s representative, what do you plan to do?
I plan to continue to run events that promote diversity on campus, like the Hidden Figures screening. I also plan to work more to plan events with Sexton Campus societies, like the Women in Engineering Society.
I have plans in the works to establish and fundraise for a survivor support emergency bursary fund. I would hope to have the fund incorporated into the DSU Survivor Support Centre, if the levy passes this election. The Centre will provide a service for survivors, like resources, advice, and advocacy. However, it will not be able to provide funds for someone to move out of an abusive housing situation, help someone afford private therapy or medication to treat PTSD from sexual assault. I hope the fund would be able to provide the centre with the ability to directly and immediately help survivors as they wish. I am really hoping that I’ll be able to challenge the Dal administration and faculty members to help me fundraise by running a symbolic marathon relay or something similar with me.
Why do you want to represent the women’s community?
I have loved representing the community this year and would love to represent it again this coming year. I really love doing advocacy that centres around equality, diversity, and accessibility. I also think it is very important for my advocacy to centre around survivor support, education about consent, and pushing for the development of better policies for sexual assault and harassment on campus.
How have you been involved with the women’s community and its constituents?
I was the DSU Women’s Representative this year. I sit on the South House Gender and Sexual Resource Centre board of directors. I volunteer with the Halifax Sexual Health Centre, which supports women and people of all genders who want to take care of their sexual health and reproductive needs. I organized a bystander intervention workshop for sexual assault workshop and a free student screening of Hidden Figures for Black history month. I also attended the survivor peer support workshops hosted by the DSU.
Mental health is very important to my constituents, so I passed a motion in support of mental health through council which will result in the DSU and Dalhousie University developing a comprehensive mental health resource for our students.
What is your favourite thing about the women’s community?
I really love the diversity within my community and the millions of definitions there are for womanhood. To me, the Women’s Community Rep also represents people with femme-leaning trans identities. Femmes and woman on campus are doing really great stuff and campus, as we could see in the Dal Gazette’s issue that showcased women doing awesome things on campus. My job is to support women on campus at Dalhousie, provide educational and empowering opportunities, promote diversity, and I love watching my community flourish.