Petition update

Toby Finlay, the Laurier Rainbow Centre admin

L. A.
Edmonton, Canada

Dec 5, 2017 — Toby Finlay wants $5000 or more on a yearly basis for the Rainbow Centre from the budget of Wilfrid Laurier University. For the centre, he and other managers (the Diversity & Equity Office) will use the money in whichever way they think would be okay.

Doesn't work that way.

The university budget is funded by provincial taxpayer money and donations.

Taxpayers and donors wouldn't like seeing their money funnelled by a university, like Wilfrid Laurier, into any student club or union that is purely partisan. They also don't trust a student organization that prefers to censor a TA or professor.

Any student organization who want to censor, and be the authority to approve which ideas can be spoken in a university classroom, can't be trusted to support academic freedom.

Intellectual freedom at a university is the point of the university.

The Rainbow Centre is, right now, acting very partisan. The management of the Rainbow Centre is displaying their politics, which is their opinion that academic freedom, and any conversation made possible by academic freedom, is violence.

Having a discussion in a university classroom is not violence. Having a debate outside a university classroom is not violence. Having a conversation in a 1st yr English Communication class about the pronouns of the English language is not violence.

Toby Finlay's full letter:

Wilfrid Laurier Rainbow Centre

The university has still not acknowledged the violence and transphobia that have been impacting trans, non-binary, and gender diverse students, staff, and faculty for the past month. The university administration has yet to provide any formal recognition of the transphobia folks are experiencing on this campus and has not yet provided any additional safety measures or supports for those impacted. The Rainbow Centre has advocated for certain safety and support mechanisms in a meeting with upper administration, but none of our concerns have been recognized or implemented. This list of demands will serve to hold the institution publicly accountable to the needs of trans, non-binary, and gender diverse students.

1. Issue a public statement naming that transphobia is a problem at our institution that is impacting trans, non-binary, and gender diverse students, staff, and faculty. We want Laurier to publicly acknowledge the ways trans, non-binary, and gender diverse individuals are being harmed and commit themselves to challenging the systems of transphobia and cisnormativity in all of the university’s endeavours. #nametransphobia

2. President Deb MacLatchy must issue a public apology to trans, non-binary, and gender diverse students, staff, and faculty, for failing to acknowledge the transphobia that exists on our campus or provide adequate supports. We want you to say that you are sorry for failing to uphold the experiences and safety of trans, non-binary, and gender diverse people in the Laurier community and for your complicity in maintaining transphobia. #sayitDeb

3. Immediately implement safety measures that have already been requested by the Rainbow Centre, including the installation of a panic button and reinforced windows in all DEO centres and offices. Create proactive safety processes in consultation with all members of the Diversity & Equity Office so that future safety concerns can be addressed immediately when threats to marginalized students occur.

4. Postpone the task force on freedom of expression until proper consultation can be completed with students, staff, and faculty who have been impacted by recent events and specialize in human rights. Change the composition of the task force to include representatives from the Diversity & Equity Office as well as specific requirements for trans people and people of colour.

5. Hire a second full-time Sexual Violence Response Coordinator within the Diversity & Equity Office in order to help respond to the experiences of gender-based violence that are occurring on campus. This demand will increase the availability of supports to survivors of transphobia and all other forms of gender-based violence within an office that is grossly overworked and understaffed.

6. Hire a trans person of colour as a full-time counsellor within the Diversity & Equity Office to provide mental health supports to individuals who are being impacted by our campus climate. This demand will decrease the barriers to mental health supports that students experience when they need to educate their counsellors about their experiences of transphobia or racism.

7. Establish a fund of at least $5000.00 per year that can be accessed by all departments at Laurier so that faculty, staff, and teaching assistants can access trans education workshops and pay trans and non-binary facilitators. This fund should be overseen by the Diversity & Equity Office who can coordinate facilitators through the Rainbow Centre or other community organizations.

8. Hire a trans faculty member to serve as a Canadian Research Chair on transphobia in post-secondary educational institutions. This individual will conduct research on institutionalized transphobia at Laurier and provide recommendations for policies and procedures that promote gender equity and support trans, non-binary, and gender diverse students, staff, and faculty.

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