Addition of Anti-Racism course to mandatory degree requirement for all faculties
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The University of Waterloo has remained performative in terms of social justice and oppression on racialized, marginalized populations; this perpetuates racism at the institutional level. The University is automatically complicit each time it chooses to address racism, whether on campus or during a global movement, with empty words and hollow promises.
As an educational institution, UWaterloo has power and influence in moulding great academics of the future and present, which ultimately forms citizens, professionals, and adults with influence on the children and other leaders of tomorrow. Your "sadness and shock" is not enough, and you're right that we must stand together against racism. Optional events surrounding racism or mandatory training events for the select leaders on campus allows those with privilege to exercise their privilege by sitting out of important conversations.
UWaterloo prides itself on innovation and going beyond, but they've continued to sit back on human rights movements such as Black Lives Matter. In order to promote anti-racism and make it a daily practice, we cannot leave it up to individual responsibility, thus promoting capitalist values that free dominating institutions. We cannot continue to allow students OR professors that hold and display racist and damaging ignorance and actions to get off with a mere warning. So, why not implement preventative action and hold everyone accountable to learn and support one another? Don't you want to be a part of a movement that affects everyone, including your own students?
I am aware this will not cure racism at the University, systemically, or globally. However, this mandatory implementation of an Anti-Racism type course based on critical race theory to the degree requirement list (and also for staff) will only benefit students and professors. Having mandatory humanities courses is not novel; we already have some in place. However, a 101 class in Psychology or Sociology to meet the breadth requirement is no where near a course that will prepare students for work in a population that is diverse and an institution that has been built off of an oppressive system. We know that humanities is needed in every sector of work and academia, but courses on critical race theory are not made mandatory; yet we all exist within this system, with some disproportionately oppressed by the other. Courses that teach beyond the classroom are vital to the type of person one becomes after. With this understanding, UWaterloo must take initiative to support students' learning experience
And although this is no where near the work that needs to be done, it is a start. It is a start of standing with BIPOC students and saying "We hear you, and we actually stand with you," rather than imposing the responsibility of teaching on the Black community and other marginalized identities. This is an opening for UWaterloo to assert themselves as an institution that is pro-social justice and activism. Whether it be in the classroom when a white professor uses racial slurs for "educational purposes" and their power silences BIPOC students (such as BJ Rye), within an individual who has now been given the tools to self-assess and foster self-awareness, or for those who would never had the thought of taking a course and are now being pulled out of their own ignorance, which Amy Cooper could have likely benefitted from. To conclude my petition, I'd like to end off with Dean Feridun Hamdullahpur's words from his June 1st, 2020 email, "We need to proactively find, prevent and remove barriers so everyone can achieve their full potential. We need to challenge privilege, decolonize and strive to create an equal, fair world for everyone."
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