Universities should acknowledge unique experiences of separate minorities, not lump them in together

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A story originally titled “Too Asian?” appeared in Maclean’s in 2010, suggesting that Asian students were not only a threat to the admissions process but that if other minorities only worked hard enough, they could be as represented in university populations too. This logic is a racist fallacy universities need to correct by acknowledging the unique experiences of separate minority groups.

The idea that there are “too many” Asians at universities like Queen’s is ironic given most of the student population is often made up of white students. Queen’s is far from being “too Asian”—if anything, it’s too white. If Queen’s and other Canadian universities want to rectify this, they need to start admitting more BIPOC students as a whole, representative of a diverse range of minorities.

There’s also a common notion among students that being white is the norm, and that the closer one gets to that standard, the more successful one can be in society. This thinking is not only problematic but throws Black and Indigenous people under the bus, suggesting that to be accepted, you need to integrate into the primarily white student body completely.

Just because some Asian international students are “privileged” enough to afford University tuition doesn’t excuse racism toward them—and suggesting our institutions are “too Asian” is just that, especially when that same logic isn’t applied to a primarily white student body.

Besides, places like Queen’s need diversity. Instead of criticizing the number of Asian students accepted here, we should celebrate them—and look to improve admission numbers for underrepresented Black and Indigenous students too.

Admitting Asian students doesn’t check a diversity box; minorities aren’t a monolith and having a large population of Asian students doesn’t excuse the lack of other minorities here at Queen’s. In most classroom settings, you’ll see a sea of white faces; having one Asian student in a row of white students doesn’t make up for that.

We need to rethink the admissions process. BIPOC students should all be represented in the Queen’s student population, and white students shouldn’t feel threatened by that idea.

Beyond admissions, we need more BIPOC representation in campus clubs. Diversity isn’t a box to be checked with a single minority student or minority club, especially when different minority groups experience different forms of racism. No two experiences are alike, and it’s important we remember that.

We shouldn’t just have one Black club or one Black counsellor on campus; we should have numerous. In the same vein, clubs can’t hire a single minority and pat themselves on the back—we need all minorities to feel heard and represented.

Representation in course content is also important. Too often, Black narratives focus on overcoming slavery. While these stories are important, professors shouldn’t just teach a single Black narrative; we need stories of Black excellence, too.

Queen’s, like many Canadian universities, has always had a diversity problem. Instead of criticizing the number of Asian students admitted, we need to question why our university is so overwhelmingly white—and then work to change that.

Journal Editorial Board

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