‘Erased by FEAS’ captures systemic discrimination in the Faculty of Engineering

Student-run Instagram page pushes for accountability with FEAS administration

'Erased by FEAS' was launched on July 10.
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Throughout July, students and alumni have taken to ‘Erased by FEAS,’ a student-run Instagram account, to share personal experiences with systemic discrimination, violence, and abuse in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science (FEAS).

Nicholas Ramsubick, Sci '20, founded the platform on July 10 to create a safe space for QTBIPOC and female engineering students where they can feel seen, heard, and validated.

"I took this initiative on because I was tired of being silent about my experience as a Black engineer, of having to erase my identity in engineering," Ramsubick said in an interview with The Journal. "I'm really glad I can be having these conversations on Queen's campus."

Ramsubick credited his inspiration to accounts 'Stolen by Smith' and 'Black at Harvard Law'.

In the wake of surfacing stories about anti-BIPOC racism, sexism, and misogyny, and other forms of discrimination in FEAS, Ramsubick said he's received messages asking him to “take the page down and stop slandering Engineering.”

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Ramsubick said the Faculty historically responds to these issues in a performative manner because “there’s never been anything to hold administration accountable.”  He added that students "will have to push for [accountability].”

Kevin Deluzio, dean of the FEAS, reached out to Ramsubick on July 13 in support of the page.

“My reaching out to Nick was to thank those students and applaud them for bringing these issues to light and having the courage to do so,” Deluzio told The Journal. “These are sad, troubling experiences our students have had and I think anybody’s going to read those with a sense of compassion.”

Deluzio said he hopes these stories can be a catalyst and help effect change.

“Proactivity starts in education and with real, active participation and partnership with our student body,” Deluzio said. “Within that need to be proactive, engineering is a professional degree program and we have with it a duty of care. Part of being an engineer is the responsibility that your work has social impact.”

Deluzio described the nature of engineering itself as analogous to the process of dismantling systemic discrimination in the FEAS.

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"It’s an engineering approach to things in the sense that we’re trying to solve a complex problem, and I always say that engineers are problem solvers at their essence,” Deluzio said. “Part of the engineering solution is to look at other solutions and see if we can adapt them. Aboriginal Access to Engineering (AAE) can serve as a template.”

Melanie Howard, director of AAE, told The Journal she thinks 'Erased by FEAS' is a “very good idea.”

“It’s a great place for students to voice these things because I think as members of minority communities, we often talk amongst ourselves about these things, but it doesn’t ever get out there in the public eye,” Howard said.

Howard added there’s work to be done in FEAS to make people feel more welcome.

“Building a community is what’s going to make people feel welcome at Queen’s,” Howard said. “We have a community built for Indigenous students, but there’s work to be done [ … ] to understand that as we diversify Queen’s, you have to listen to these voices and read the [posts] on 'Erased by FEAS'. Think about your place in that and hopefully take some action.”

Responding to posts recounting negative experiences in environments operated by the Engineering Society (EngSoc), including Clark Hall Pub and the Science Formal, EngSoc told The Journal that "racist, homophobic, sexist, and other offensive attitudes have no place in the Engineering Society.”

“We fully support this initiative and believe that it is essential in improving the culture in engineering," EngSoc wrote. "We want to thank Nicholas Ramsubick for organizing this platform and taking on the labour of sharing these important experiences.”

EngSoc released its Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Action Plan for the 2020-21 year on July 24 with input from Ramsubick. The Society is also revamping the Science Formal bursary structure.

"Overall, it is paramount that we foster a more inclusive culture in the coming year, and we hope that introducing these changes to the current EngSoc structure will help us achieve this," EngSoc wrote.

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