Senate repeals 1918 ‘colour ban’ on Black medical students

Working group established in School of Medicine to provide further recommendations

Image by: Tessa Warburton
PhD candidate Edward Thomas sparked efforts last month to repeal the century-old Senate motion.

At the Senate’s Sept. 25 meeting, PhD candidate Edward Thomas presented an item to Senate seeking the repeal of the century-old policy that barred Black students from entering Queen’s medical school.

At the time, he noted the institutional rule was enforced as late as 1965, but the Senate hadn’t formally rescinded the ban.

Dr. Richard Reznick, dean of the faculty of health sciences at Queen’s, was asked to move the motion in Tuesday’s meeting.

“I’d like to compliment Edward Thomas, a PhD candidate, for bringing this issue to Senate’s attention,” Reznick said. “I think that we all had a bit of a shock and a wake-up call [and] were also impressed by the depth of his research.”

The motion, which was recommended by Thomas, called on Senate to rescind the resolution. However, Reznick noted the motion also called  for consideration of additional measures.

Since the Notice of Motion, Reznick said he has established a working group in the School of Medicine. The group was formed to address the existence of the 1918 motion and to generate other appropriate actions that may be undertaken. 

Reznick will chair the group, which will include Leslie Flynn, the vice-dean of education, Lon Knox, the university secretariat, and Mala Joneja, director of diversity and equity in the school of medicine. 

Two medical students will also be serving on the commission. 

“The eight of us are going to deliberate over the next three or four months and bring back some additional recommendations the school can undertake,” Reznick said. 

He plans to present the recommendations in either March or April’s Senate meetings next year. 

The only discussion on the motion to repeal was raised by Senator Jacqueline Davies, who inquired whether, in the interim, the working group would share its Terms of Reference with the Senate. 

Reznick agreed to share the terms after the group’s next meeting.

“Broadly speaking, the terms of reference will be to consider the recommendations that Mr. Thomas had for us, as well as other activities that we might undertake,” Reznick said. 

Following the brief discussion period, the motion to repeal passed unanimously. 



This article mischaracterized Thomas’ involvemement with the repeal. He presented it as an item, which Principal Woolf then placed as a motion on the agenda. Thomas did not make the motion. 

The Journal regrets the error


motion, racism, Senate

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