PSAC 901 & SGPS host ‘Disorientation’

Organizations talk ways to combat racism and oppression

PSAC 901 discusses importance of recognizing systemic racism.

On Sept. 24, members of Public Service Alliance of Canada Local 901 (PSAC 901) and the Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) met through Zoom to discuss “anti-oppressive survival on campus.”

‘Disorientation: Anti Oppressive Orientation with PSAC and SGPS’ touched on Queen’s colonial history, strategies for survival for marginalized students on campus, and work that PSAC 901 intends to carry out to support students and staff at Queen’s.

“We as current Queen’s students and members of PSAC 901 agree that it is up to us to recognize our power and fight against the institutionalization of the suffering of Black and Indigenous people, people of color, immigrants and refugees across multivariate gender and sexual identifications, persons with varied disabilities, as well as other marginalized groups,” Rachel Fernandes, SGPS and PSAC 901 member, said during the live session.

According to Fernandes, PSAC 901 planned ‘Disorientation’ by focusing on building community support and creating accountable spaces to address racism issues in workplaces.

“It’s important to recognize that systematic racism exists, and that is an ongoing struggle. It’s crucial to constantly reassess our goals to suit the needs of the marginalized people,” she said.

Fernandes added that PSAC 901 committee will offer support and resources to workers and students who are operating in an oppressive system.

“We aim to offer more disorientation events in the future and continue our anti-racist work to fight for survival and promote equity and social justice in our community.”

In her report, Prerna Subramanian, PSAC 901 equity officer, discussed Queen’s foundations in colonialism and current impacts of this history—including the school’s 1918 ban of students of African descent from Queen’s school of medicine, hate crimes towards Muslim students in 2013, and racist incidents against indigenous and LGBTQ+ students.

“There are moments when the university hides this information from public knowledge, and it can be hard to find this information on the university’s resources,” Subramanian said.

During the event, speakers also spoke to promising signs of resistance.

“There have been many signs of ongoing resistance, and these steps are important in fighting against racism and oppression,” Sabrina Masud, SGPS international commissioner, said.

Masud touched on the introduction of minor in Black studies, the removal of John A. Macdonald’s name from the law building and the rise of anti-oppressive unions such as PSAC 901.

“Disorientation is not a singular event. It requires us to continually rededicate ourselves to the lifelong task of resisting, mitigating and surviving systemic racism and oppression.”

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