Token outrage falls short

Image supplied by: Illustration by Emily Sicilia

Last week, the Queen’s University Muslim Students Association (QUMSA) reported anti-Islamic crimes on campus.

QUMSA’s office space was broken into, money was stolen from their charitable fund and a poster was defaced to read, “Queen’s University Muslims should die.” Some female students have also endured racist and sexist taunts shouted at them from car windows.

The University should be ashamed that such contemptible acts were allowed to occur among a group of supposedly enlightened and progressive minds.

Community outcry is sincere after such blatant incidents but too often falls short of enacting real change and racism is soon overshadowed by other issues.

What is most disturbing is the cyclical nature of Islamophobia on campus; in 2006, QUMSA faced similar problems when one of its banners was set on fire and several students received anti-Islamic hate e-mail in their Qlink accounts.

The University constantly emphasizes maintaining Queen’s reputation and an important aspect of that should involve creating a community of acceptance.

Unfortunately, Queen’s is quick to congratulate itself for simply enrolling more ethnic minority students, while ignoring the systemic problems that create a culture of exclusion on campus for the newly-admitted students.

It’s unpleasant to admit the University has issues surrounding racism, but Queen’s could actually have a better reputation if it was shown to deal with incidents promptly.

Although merely issuing statements and holding rallies won’t solve all of the problems, it’s important, as a first step, to acknowledge such hate crimes exist instead of burying the issues under rhetoric about how the University should, or could, be.

It’s both surprising and disappointing that University administration and the AMS have yet to make statements condemning the racist incidents, which they did after a professor was subject to racial taunts by four male students wearing engineering jackets on Nov. 14, 2007.

By not publicly speaking against the anti-Islamic incidents, the University has shown weak resolve in dealing with racism issues and allowed an environment for a minority of students to continue their racist behaviour.

Although it’s difficult to identify tangible solutions to an attitudinal problem, it can be done if the victimized population, University administration and the student body develop the toughness to collectively implement measurable changes.

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