Next step for Queen’s response to US immigrant ban: more than just words

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Canadian universities have the power to be safe havens for vulnerable communities and positive values — so far, Queen’s is wielding this power well. 

After American President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday to ban immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days, several Canadian universities issued statements condemning the ban and acknowledging its negative consequences. 

On Saturday, a public vigil was held for the victims of an Islamophobic attack at a mosque in Quebec City, in which six people were killed. Following both events, Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf made a statement through the Queen’s Gazette. 

In the statement, Woolf acknowledged that the values behind the immigration ban and the Quebec attack “are not Canadian, and they are not those of Queen’s University.” 

In a political situation as sensitive and divisive as this one, it would’ve been easy for Queen’s to make a generic statement in response — they could’ve condemned the ban and listed a few resources available to students who may be affected. 

But Daniel Woolf’s statement went beyond this. What’s particularly significant is his willingness to realize that our political and cultural climate may require more than words from the Queen’s community. 

In recognizing that the Queen’s community “may well need to go beyond this, and offer a safe haven” to those facing the consequences, he acknowledged that this wasn’t going to be fixed by only words, but by “concrete measures.” 

The idea of going beyond what’s expected and looking for tangible solutions seems to be a promise of continual resistance to exclusionary forces — a commitment that the University has the power to implement. 

While the administration’s response was positive in its promise of inclusion and action, statements like this aren’t the solution — they’re just the beginning. 

In future conversations about how Queen’s can best welcome those impacted by the ban, it would be beneficial to openly recognize the Islamophobic incidents that often arise as a result of similar political rhetoric. 

Calling Islamophobia by its name isn’t just a step towards having frank conversations about it, but it also allows those made vulnerable by its presence to feel less isolated. 

There’s still so much that can be done on this campus alone to combat the same divisive values that introduced the ban and fueled the Quebec attack. 

Woolf’s words will be most valuable if they become more than words. But so far, the words were just the right ones.

Journal Editorial Board

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