For its final campaign of the year, the Student Justice Centre (SJC) is holding an awareness campaign for race and racism issues, specifically targeting what those look like on the Brock campus.
“[Racism] is often a taboo subject, because I think people have this idea that it’s a thing of the past,” said Kailey Kelly, the Campaigns Coordinator at the SJC.
Kelly also spoke of several incidences in seminars when she noticed that racism came up and people seemed to feel uncomfortable speaking about it.
“We want people to feel comfortable talking about [racism], and that they feel okay challenging it,” added Kelly.
As a campus with a predominantly white population, not just at the student level, but also among faculty and staff members, racism remains an issue that tends to be ignored too often. The SJC campaign wants to highlight experiences from students who have experienced racism in order to bring this issue out into the open. The campaign aims not only to bring awareness about discrimination, but also the white privilege that is shared, whether consciously or unconsciously, by the majority population on campus.
“We want people to also address white privilege and the lack of knowledge about that position,” said Kelly. “We want people to understand the way that they’re contributing [to racism] without realizing it.”
Kelly brought up several examples of certain types of discriminatory comments, like judging a professor’s teaching qualities because of their accents, and how these types of derogatory attitudes have become a norm on campus.
The SJC campaign, titled “Challenge Racism”, asks students to consider four questions: ‘What does racism look like?’, ‘How do you challenge racism?’, ‘How do people stereotype you?’, and ‘How comfortable are you to talk about race and racism?’. Volunteers have already been at tables in the hallways last week, getting students to write the answer to their questions on whiteboards. Volunteers will continue to be in the hallways both this and next week.
The responses will be posted on the SJC Facebook page. Several well-known faces around the campus such as Kyle Rose, BUSU President, and Jad Nasser, BUSU Vice President of Student Services-elect, have already contributed posts. Students are also given the option to drop by the SJC and submit responses. There is also the option of having responses posted anonymously.
Kelly decided to focus the last campaign of the year on this specific issue because of the support the SJC received for their “Dress Up, Don’t Mess Up” campaign for Halloween.
“We knew people wanted to talk about [this issue], and so we felt like we should do another campaign,” said Kelly.
The positive support that this campaign has received so far shows the appreciation of students who are finally receiving the chance to make their voices heard and bring their experiences out into the open.
“We have a blanket idea that everything is better in Canada,” said Kelly. ”However, we still have a problem, and the power dynamics in the world are still happening here.”
A table will be set up this week in Mackenzie Chown A Block on Wednesday and Thursday and next week beside the Computer Commons on Wednesday and Thursday as well.