As Senate members and visitors entered Robert Sutherland Hall for their monthly meeting on Nov. 29, they were welcomed at the front doors by a crowd of students holding signs that read “my culture is not a costume” and “institutional silence is violence” among others.
Woolf explained in his blog that he would be forming an advisory group made up of students, faculty, and staff members to look at the issues of inclusivity at Queen’s and come up with recommendations pertaining to them.
In response to Woolf’s statement the group of undergraduate and graduate students came together to protest outside the Sutherland Hall where the Senate meeting was scheduled to take place.
One of the students involved with the protest was second year Culture Studies PhD student, Natasha Stirrett, the selected media spokesperson for the group.
“We are protesting not just because of the party, it’s much bigger than that. We are drawing attention to the deeper systemic inequalities and racism on Queen’s campus,” Stirrett said.
“We want to demand that the University moves forward on not just paying lip service to what’s been happening on campus but moving forward with action,” Stirrett said.
She explained that the group had come together after last week’s events and outlined clear goals in their action plan for the University in hopes of a change.
“We want there to be set in place clear consequences and accountability for the racist actions that were actually undertaken by the students and actually enforcing them,” Stirrett said.
“Actively implementing fair hiring, promotion, research funding, and tenure for professors of faculty,” was also listed as a goal.
Other goals included mandatory training on issues of oppression for staff and faculty at Queen’s; mandatory training for all counselors working at Student Wellness Services on how to deal with racism and other issues; creating a mandatory course for incoming students, educating them on Indigenous issues and race issues; creating more scholarships specifically for incoming Indigenous or black students; making changes to Frosh Week activities to include education on systemic racism; and featuring faculty, staff, and students of colour in centre roles on the Principal’s proposed implementation group.
When asked about plans for the future in terms of these goals Stirrett said, “the life of student activism is ongoing. It’s a living, breathing entity and will be an ongoing project to dismantle systems of oppression.”
As the protest continued many senators entered through the front doors directly passing the activists, but some entered through the back doors of the building.
A car passing by slowed down as the driver shouted at the protestors and threw books out the window in their direction. The protest continued for the duration of Senate.
The group plans to deliver their action plan to the Principal’s implementation group once they’re assembled, meanwhile continuing to organize and protest until the plan is carried out.
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