#NoNazisAtLaurier: Demand WilfridLaurierUni. to Take a Stand Against Hatespeech on Campus
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Over the past few months, the Laurier community has been faced with a number of issues that both undermine the safety of staff and students, and do not align with the values held by the university, as set out in the Non-Academic code of conduct. These issues have been cause for concern amongst students and staff at Laurier, as well as the alumni community, across the country and the world. As an alumna, these issues have been disturbing, and led to deep embarrassment for my alma mater.
Beginning in the fall semester, Laurier has been the subject of op-eds and news articles all over the country. Why? The university responded to concerns about the content being used in a first year communications class tutorial, being taught by Lindsay Shepherd.
A video was played during a tutorial, that featured Jordan Peterson, (a UofT professor, controversial author, and known transphobe) deriding the right of trans and non-binary people to be addressed by their preferred pronouns. This content was not approved by the professor. If you've been following this story at all, you'll know that LS has been at the centre of a media circus surrounding this incident, claiming that the university's measures to reprimand her for the tutorial content are an infringement on her right to free speech. Laurier has been skewered in the media as a result, and issued a public apology to LS, after she released a recording of her reprimand meeting. The lead professor of the class also issued an apology.
Student activists and many other in the community expressed concern that by issuing this apology, the university was in effect saying that "free speech" also includes hatespeech.
Fast forward to March 2018. LS and her student group (which is not approved/financially supported by the Students' Union's Campus Clubs division) Laurier Society for Open Inquiry (LSOI) planned an event, and invited Faith Goldy (a known racist xenophobe, and neo-nazi sympathizer) as the first guest of their "Unpopular Opinions" series. The talk, to take place on campus on March 20th, was to be about Canada's immigration policies and what they mean for the "erasure" of "white culture" (the title of the talk actually uses the word "Ethnocide"). LS insists that the event was intended to foster discussion and academic debate, and that "all sides" should be considered before one "forms an opinion". Many in the community vehemently disagreed.
Despite the requests of students, professors, and activists, the university did not step in to prevent this event from taking place, and the event was actually moved to a bigger space, the Paul Martin Centre. Professors and students loudly opposed this event, with one professor even encouraging students to tear down posters. Activists and students on campus organized a counter protest, and eventually a fire alarm was pulled before the talk even took place.
In the time since this talk was supposed to happen, there have been tons of opinions and articles and arguments.
After a closer look into Wilfrid Laurier University's policies, and Non-academic code of conduct (E.1.a., E.3.c., E.3.e., E.7.b.), this event is in distinct violation of the values held by the university and the kind of environment that it hopes to foster for the community, as outlined in the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination policy, and the Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy and Procedures.
This is not the last "controversial" event that LSOI has in mind for this year.
The intent of this petition is to send a message to the Laurier Administration and other governing bodies that the Laurier community and its alumni will not stand for WLU becoming a place that protects "free speech" before it protects the rights of its vulnerable and marginalized members, by using the language that they will understand: money.
Alumni, by signing this petition, you will be telling Laurier and its governing bodies that while events like this are allowed to take place on campus without a strong, clear statement and effort from the university to prevent them, you will no longer contribute financially to the university. The university depends very heavily on alumni donations.
Current students and staff, by signing this petition, you are joining your voices with the alumni, to say that this is not right and it is not okay.
By signing this petition, you are holding Laurier accountable; you are taking a stand against hatespeech, and the tolerance of intolerance.
Please sign in support of the marginalized and vulnerable members of the Laurier community, and their right to safety and human decency.
[Please feel free to comment with your class year, program, and status (current student/staff or alumni) in the "Why I'm Signing" section. Pass along to other members of the community.]
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