Letter to the Editor: Mar. 23

Dear Editor,
On March 21, 2019, Bobby Liang shed light on explicit expressions of classism and racism present at the Smith School of Business, speaking largely from his personal experiences as a racialized student. Although Bobby’s sentiments have resonated with some students, others—largely those unaffected by issues of class and race—have reacted in a way that discredits his legitimate grievances, and impedes efforts to fight more a more equitable Queen’s commerce.
Bobby’s article raised such widespread recognition that Lori Garnier - Executive Director of the Commerce Program - issued a reply. While I recognize that Garnier is an individual with limited resources and acknowledge current efforts in place to promote equity in commerce, I do not find that she adequately addressed Bobby’s concerns or provided resources for other marginalized students in our program. Frankly, her reply read like an attempt to address the reputation-related damage caused by the original article.
Thus, I am writing to present my critical perspective on certain initiatives listed in Garnier’s response, and hold the program accountable for changes yet implemented; despite previous input.
While significant efforts have been made to recruit students of marginalized communities, there is limited infrastructure within commerce to ensure all students feel a sense of belonging. Personally, as a racialized student facing financial hardship, professionals in the academic advising department have been unequipped to adequately address and mitigate microaggressions and discrimination. With regards to commerce advisors, I have sought help, but found myself repeatedly having to explain and relive my trauma to receive the necessary validation and appropriate support. Commerce has the capacity to change this. A commitment must be made to the provision of comprehensive services to students, including counselors specialized in supporting racialized, LGBTQ2IA+ and lower-income students.
Currently, there is also a lack of diverse representation in paid positions in the commerce program. Specifically, although exists the Commerce Diversity and Inclusion Committee, information about the committee is unavailable; leading me to question the representation of members on this board with regards to race, socioeconomic background, gender, sexual orientation, etc. This lack of transparency presented by the commerce office alludes that Smith doesn’t measure up to equity and diversity targets for hiring. A lack of visible and diverse representation amongst staff is discouraging for the futures of marginalized students in the academy and professional world. Until I see change at the higher levels of our program, I refuse to believe that the Smith School of Business is truly supporting the individuals from marginalized communities that they have worked so hard to recruit.
Lastly, while I have this platform, I would like to tell those who are currently struggling with these issues that there are resources at Queen’s—though external to commerce—that will provide you with the support you need: https://www.queensu.ca/inclusive/resources/equity-diversity-anti-racism.
I hope that the Smith School of Business is held accountable for their actions through this public platform and that we see progressive and sustainable support for marginalized communities as soon as possible. Commitment must be made to promote an environment/community of inclusion, respect, and trust.
Kelly Weiling Zou.

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