Polarizing opinions block productive dialogue

After a tense and divisive online reaction to the controversial countries-themed costume party that happened last semester, I still can’t explain the reason for such polarizing conversations and I’m still not confident about what qualifies as a racist costume. 

All I could really tell you was that were costumes that offended some and not others and, at the end of the day, there ultimately wasn’t a conclusion to what is considered appropriate. And that’s the problem.

Ultimately, forcing anyone out of a controversial costume without them understanding why would be blatant censorship and only creates an illusion of progress. Silencing someone doesn’t mean you’ve opened them to a new perspective.

It’s impossible to have everyone conform to a certain standard of sensitivity. As Queen’s students, we’re privileged to live in the country that we do and we need to understand, in a time of heightened sensitivity, that feeling safe and actually being safe are two different things.

On Tuesday, six members of the Queen’s community were named to the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion — the long-winded name to what the school claims is the solution to calming controversy.

Two faculty, two students, and two staff are responsible for creating a list of actions, coupled with performance indicators, to essentially cleanse our school of tension. 

When you think about it, that’s a lot of pressure to have on just six people, who have to decide what’s wrong at a school of almost 25,000 students.

Though I’m generally skeptical about the overall effectiveness of task forces — sometimes they seem to be half-heartedly formed as a way to bureaucratically dance around a problem — I’m hesitantly hopeful that this new committee will offer valuable insight by having the dialogue our students failed to have.

I’m cautiously hoping that this task force won’t be bullied by the political correctness that effectively restricted the initial conversation at the time of the party but will be able to come to a consensus on a problem that divided us so deeply. 

Mikayla is The Journal’s Features Editor. She’s a third-year Applied Economics major.

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