Queen’s Senate urges action on campus racism

Kingston, ON, Canada / CKWS TV

A recent costume party involving Queen’s students that sparked a national controversy — was the focus of discussion at a university senate meeting last night.
The main question facing the senate is how to address claims of racism on campus.
Darryn Davis has more.

These students were outside Sutherland Hall making their opinions known as the University’s Senate met inside.
The contentious issue at hand is a costume party earlier this month with the theme countries of the world.
The protesters and many on the Queen’s campus feel it played to stereo types and racism.
In a blog Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolfe stated he wanted to strike a committee to look at the incident and come up with recommendations.
That sparked a letter with over 200 signatures saying the issue has been studied in the past and it’s time to implement recommendations.
Professor Adnan Husain put his name to that letter and has sat on one of the past committees.
Husain says there are two key components to changing attitudes at the university and they should be part of the curriculum.
“One understanding something about social identities and social justice and two, to have a real genuine acquaintance with non western and global cultures.”
A motion went before the senate calling for the implementation of past recommendations.
“Particularly the motion was to implement the most recent report which was just, two reports in 2009 and then the follow up by the diversity and equity task force from that. ”
“When it looked like the motion was going to be deferred, the students got up to leave the senate meeting in protest and that’s when MacDonald says one of the students said something that swayed the senates vote.”
“One of them said on leaving, racism can’t wait and it actually shifted her saying that shifted the mood in the room. ”
Reaction to the vote is mixed.
“That motion is going to pass apparently which is wonderful and I’m very happy. ”
“It seems like a better step to look at what the past committees have already found because we already have good recommendations.”
“I think it’s a bit inherent in human nature regarding some of those things all you can do is increase awareness and educate.”
The Senate can only make recommendations.
It will be up to the administration to enact past report recommendations and provide the budget to properly address the issues of racism and sensitivity on campus.
Darryn Davis CKWS News Kingston.

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