Queen’s responds to discrimination

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Isra Rafiq, QUMSA co-chair

Queen’s University Muslim Association (QUMSA) co-chair Isra Rafiq, ArtSci ’09, said Mantle’s status as a student leader doesn’t make his statement any more hurtful.

“If it’s any type of discriminatory act, I’d hope for a similar reaction no matter who it is. The fact that he is a student leader does signify that he is representing a voice of many people. That’s where there is a difference.”

Rafiq said she acknowledges Mantle’s public apology, but does not feel as though it was given in an appropriate manner.

“I’m glad that a step was taken. However, I was deeply concerned and alarmed when I realized that he required a bit of a push to get to that point and he did hesitate to do it.”

Rafiq said she feels the status of Mantle’s presidency should be in the hands of university and student government.

“I feel that as a QUMSA representative and an ArtSci student, I want the administration and the AMS to be the ones taking the next step. I don’t want to be the person being responsible for any decisions. It should be the administration and the AMS that are coming to these decisions based on anything he has done in the past and based on any previous training he has done in the past and what we expect him to be doing or pursuing as a leader.”

Rafiq said she doesn’t feel QUMSA’s association with the issue is warranted.

“With the initial break-in, I was really glad to see that something was being done. However, with the Jacob Mantle issue and then second break-in, though the timing was very close, I didn’t necessarily feel that they necessarily were meant to be in the same article.”

David Patterson, director of Campus Security

Campus security has increased as a result of the two break-ins in the QUMSA prayer space, which occurred in September and last week.

“In reference to the anti-Islamic acts against our Muslim students, campus security has increased our foot patrols of the QUMSA office in the JDUC,” said David Patterson, director of campus security. “We’re taking a look at making sure the doors are secured, taking a look at lighting, taking a look at access to emergency communications, emergency phones. We’re going to be working with the QUMSA executive, the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs and the JDUC in implementing some of these safety measures.”

Patterson said these measures have already been proven effective.

“Some of them have already been put into place. There were tempered plates placed on the doors after the September break-in, which were effective in deterring the recent break-in attempt this past weekend.”

Patterson declined to comment on Mantle’s actions.

Toby Moorsom, PhD ’09

Toby Moorsom, a fifth-year PhD candidate specializing in African history, said he was not satisfied with Mantle’s public apology.

“I think it was a lie. He could have [at] least have been honest and said that yes, he has done something racist. It’s easy for us who live with white privilege, whether we are aware of it or not, we participate in racist practices. It’s not that I don’t think anybody who is a victim of racism expects purity, but we at least have to recognize when we do fall into racist practices and make efforts to correct them,” he said.

“His apology was a public relations statement to claim that he did not actually believe the things that he said. It was not an apology directed to students at QUMSA or any other Muslim student associations on campus to rectify the harm that has caused them.”

Moorsom was also critical of the Journal’s coverage of the incident.

“The first half of the article is not focused by the people who are actually harmed by the statement. Instead it’s the white kid makes an apology,” he said. “It reads like the sympathies of the Journal are with the privileged white kid who slipped up. You’re reporting the fact that he’s apologizing rather than the issues of racism on campus.”

Talia Radcliffe, AMS president

“The reason why it has gone as far as it has gone is because he is a student leader and people, at the end of the day, hold student leaders accountable,” said AMS President Talia Radcliffe.

Radcliffe said Mantle’s comment has caused damage to the relationship between the student body and their student government representatives.

“This comment is completely unrepresentative of student opinion. The outrage that has been displayed obviously reflects that sentiment.”

Radcliffe said Mantle’s public apology, released on the ASUS website did not strike her as being genuine.

“I think in a lot of ways that apology was too little too late. He waited until he knew this issue was going public and in the article he admitted he was hesitant to apologize. I have no doubt that Jacob has learned more over the past week than he ever expected to. The damage is permanent; people have lost their trust in him. Because we have shared constituents we felt it was our responsibility to be representative of these feelings and go forward.”

Radcliffe said Mantle’s words have the power to create a divide amongst the student population.

“I did want to emphasize the impact of the comments. Because of Jacob’s comments, there are students on this campus that feel a little more vulnerable and a little less welcome. This isn’t a battle between PC and freedom of speech, this is about assessing the real life impact these words have and continue to have on this campus.”

Radcliffe said AMS Council has decided to take action against Mantle’s comments.

“To ensure that Jacob’s comments are not portrayed as being representative of student opinions on campus and in order to demonstrate that comments like these are not tolerated in any shape or form, the AMS council is asking that Jacob Mantle resign from his position. It was the decision made to ask for it the AMS has no jurisdiction over the resignation of another faculty society.”

Barrington Walker, diversity advisor

Diversity Advisor to the Vice-Principal (Academic) Barrington Walker said the public outcry regarding Mantle’s comments was indicative of his high-profile status.

“It’s clear that having that position of public responsibility changes the way that people react to things.”

Walker said he does not have different expectations for those who are in a position of public power.

“For me personally, no. I tend to hold people under the same standards of conduct whether they are public figures or not.”

Walker said students should be the ones to determine Mantle’s future as ASUS president.

“I think that the apology was a good first step. It’s out of my position as faculty member and administrator to tell him what to do. I think that the students who he represents should have a lot to say about moving forward.”

Walker said the university should not intrude on certain student- oriented issues.

“Administrators have to be very careful about imposing our beliefs onto students. I do have my own opinions about this issue, but it is a student issue and the students should be the ones deciding how to move forward on this.” Walker said he hopes Mantle listens to the views of his constituents.

“Hopefully, the students will reach a verdict about this and he will act out accordingly. It’s essentially about the students.”

Dominique Vanier, ASUS vice-president

ASUS vice-president Dominique Vanier said Mantle’s position as ASUS president places him on a higher moral standard than the rest of the student body.

“The statement was unacceptable, period. More so, it’s unacceptable that he’s a public leader and a student leader.”

Vanier said Mantle’s public apology was a sincere one.

“The apology was written by Jacob because he is the one that is apologetic for his comment. I feel that an apology is the first step of many steps to even help resolve the feelings of the student body right now. I don’t think an apology by itself is sufficient, and obviously he isn’t just doing an apology right now. He’s going way beyond an apology.”

Vanier said the public dialogue regarding Mantle’s status at AMS Assembly on Thursday night was crucial towards creating positive action.

“ASUS is working with the social issues commission, Queen’s human rights office and has been over the last week. The first step was to be here tonight and to listen to everybody that was here, because that is the first step in addressing any problem is actually listening to what people have to say and listening to those who are so deeply affected and deeply hurt by what happened.”

Vanier said after AMS Assembly on Thursday night, Mantle’s position as ASUS president will be under further evaluation at ASUS assembly.

“Tonight was the first venue for feedback to be generated. There will be many more venues for feedback to be generated. Next will be our constituents discussing what happens because ultimately this is what ASUS assembly is: the governing body that will first and foremost will have to address this,” she said. “It is within ASUS’s jurisdiction to continue what happened tonight, basically. At the next ASUS assembly this will be discussed. As of right now, it is next Thursday. That’s all I can say at the moment, it is set for next Thursday.”

Vanier said she acknowledges Mantle’s comments have had an negative impact across campus.

“This issue affects everybody here. It doesn’t just affect the people in the gallery. It affects the whole entire student body, it affects the entire staff at the school, it affects the faculty and it affects me,” she said. “I’m really upset and saddened by what has happened over the last weeks, by Islamophobia, by the comment that was made and the comments that continue to be made by various Queen’s students. We need to work together to find a solution where this just doesn’t happen anymore. It’s not going to take a few days; it’s going to take a really long time.”

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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