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SUS launches anti-racism campaign

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The Student Union Society (SUS) launched an anti-racism campaign Feb. 25. The stated intent of the campaign is to “to end racism on campus” by gathering stories of students who have experienced racism on campus and elsewhere in their lives. The information will be used to compile a report to inform future SUS programming.

An email announcing the campaign, sent to students, links to the “Race on Campus” (ROC) campaign website, where those who have experienced racism or discrimination are invited to confidentially share their stories through an online submission forum. Several stories have already been published publicly on the campaign website with redacted information.

The Feb. 24 press release added that SUS was also looking for stories about “faculty and institutional racism” on campus, in addition to personal stories of racialized violence.

The Cascade reached out to SUS regarding the campaign’s launch and goals. President of SUS, Gurvir Gill, declined comment.

According to the press release, SUS executives were inspired to launch the campaign after hearing the “heartrending” stories of those at UFV and at other universities who have experienced racism.

“The UFV Student Union Society’s RACE ON CAMPUS Project give students a safe method of telling their story, be it about racial violence, institutional racism and discrimination, the lack of non-white faculty or university administrators, or about being ‘streamed to fail’,” the press release stated.

The stories, according to the website, are to be compiled into a report by the SUS ad-hoc committee. The committee will review the stories and use them to guide its research on best practices used at universities regarding manifestations of racism and discrimination.

The report will be used by SUS to inform future programming efforts and advocacy work done by the society. It may also be shared with UFV administration containing recommendations on how UFV could reduce racism and discrimination on campus.

“As a result of this project, we may learn more about the forms of racism that exist at UFV. Recommendations about how to address incidents of racism will be generated,” according to the campaign website.

“We hope to launch educational, community-building programming to empower cultural, spiritual, and racial communities that have been marginalized on campus,” stated the press release.

Part of the website also contains a listing of definitions of various forms of racism, including new, interpersonal, cultural, institutional, and structural racism, white privilege, and microaggressions.

Several definitions on the website can be found word-for-word on a blog written by DeEtta Jones, a public speaker and equity, diversity, and inclusion strategy consultant.

Gill said in a short statement over email that there is no plagiarism in the campaign, but did not address why the blogger was not credited.

“There are multiple public use sites, personal experiences, dictionary definitions all on racism,” Gill said over email. “Some may be similar, some may look exactly the same but it does not address the big picture of racism.”

The campaign joins other initiatives at UFV that aim to bring awareness to racism and discrimination on campus. UFV’s Race and Anti-racism Network (RAN) host a number of events each year to bring awareness to topics around racism and encourage dialogue between those on campus.

This year, the group will be hosting the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21, where a family of Syrian refugees have agreed to come and share their story.

Image: Mikaela Collins/The Cascade

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