This article was updated on March 26, 2021, at 12:30 p.m.
At its March Senate meeting, senators questioned Principal Patrick Deane and Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Mark Green about student support following the rise of anti-Asian racism.
Eight people were killed on March 16, including six of Asian descent, in a massacre at three massage businesses in the Atlanta area. Seven of the victims were women.
Since, activists across the United States and Canada have brought increased attention to the rise of anti-Asian racism since the start of the pandemic. At Queen’s, student organizations like the Queen’s Asian Student Association (QASA) immediately posted statements offering support and resources for Asian students at Queen’s. Instagram account @StolenbySmith highlighted some of its previous posts depicting acts of racism against Asian students at Queen’s.
Student governments quickly followed suit. On March 18, the Commerce Society released a statement condemning anti-Asian racism, announcing its intention to donate $1,250 to #HATEISAVIRUS, a nonprofit organization supporting Asian and Pacific Islander communities, as well as $1,250 to the Chinese Canadian National Council. ASUS released a statement with a list of resources for Asian students at Queen’s, and the AMS donated $500 to Fight COVID-19 racism and $500 to Butterfly.
At the time of publication, Queen’s had not posted any formal statements or resources for Asian students. On March 18, Principal Patrick Deane commented on the Atlanta shootings on his Principal’s Twitter account.
“The shootings in Atlanta and the rise of anti-Asian racism and misogyny are horrific and abhorrent. We at [Queen’s] condemn these acts of racism and gender-based violence and express our sympathy and support to the Asian community.”
Senator Petra Fachinger asked Provost Green what actions Queen’s is taking to support students.
“My question is, what measures have been taken to support Asian-Canadian students and students from Asian countries to support them in the wake of the most recent
Green said Queen’s addressed some “specific incidents” early on in the pandemic.
On Feb. 1, 2020, former Queen’s Undergraduate Trustee Tyler Macintyre attended a coronavirus-themed party. Principal Patrick Deane released a short statement Feb. 3 asking students not to ostracize Chinese and Asian students, but didn’t specifically reference the party. Following criticism, Deane released a secondary statement Feb. 5 addressing the party.
“To my knowledge, we don’t have any [statement] other than that was specifically done, but I think that that is something we should review and look at ways that we can address more specifically,” Green said.
Senator Fachinger said she thinks there’s some urgency, referencing a private initiative by PhD student Clarissa de Leon in the Faculty of Education to offer Asian students a safe space for discussion and support.
“I happened to forward this email this morning to a couple of undergraduate students who are not connected to this particular group,” Fachinger said. “They were extremely grateful because they told me they felt kind of really isolated and not receiving support from the University, and were really grateful to have this kind of safe space to discuss ideas. I was a bit concerned the University has not done more.”
Provost Green deferred to Ann Tierney, vice-provost and dean of student affairs. Tierney referenced Deanna Fialho, director of the Yellow House, or the Queen’s Centre for Student Equity and Inclusion. Tierney said Fialho has been reaching out to some of the student groups she works with.
“That’s just another example, Petra, to the important example you shared,” Tierney said.
The initiative, called the Queen’s Asian Community Care drop-in, was advertised by the Student Experiences Office on March 24, the day following the Senate meeting. The Zoom drop-in session is available for Asian undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and staff on March 26 from 12-1 p.m. Those interested in attending can sign up through a Google form.
Green said he didn’t have “a lot of specific answers” for how Queen’s is addressing
“I do share a lot of concern about the elements of racism that underlies a lot of what surrounds the response to the pandemic.”
Senator Karen Lawford asked Provost Green and Principal Deane where Queen’s should be communicating its support and advocacy.
“Can’t we write letters to our MP? Our MPP? To the Prime Minister? I don’t understand why we’re so insular,” she said.
Lawford pointed out there were people present at the Senate meeting able to navigate those federal spaces.
“Can’t we do that? Can’t we take a leadership role? I want us to. I want you, Patrick Deane, to write this letter. You and Mark. To write this letter and say this is enough, we have to deal with this. Where is that leadership?”
Deane called Lawford’s request a “good suggestion.”
“We’ll work on it and give it some thought.”
Since the Senate meeting, the Smith Commerce Society has announced a workshop, called ‘Colouring the White Space,’ which will take place on March 27 from 4-6 p.m. for Asian students in the Smith School of Business.
“In this workshop, Smith School of Business students who identify as Asian are invited to create, hold space, share, and grieve collectively.”
Students can register for the event here: https://www.my.comsoc.ca/events/colouring-white-space-therapeutic-art-night.
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