Dalhousie University in Halifax has made a mistake. After student Masuma Khan, vice president of the Dalhousie Student Union, wrote on social media encouraging her fellow students to boycott Canada 150 events, she faced backlash from the school, which decided that the tone of the argument was not in keeping with ideals of the University itself. Khan is facing disciplinary action after at least one complaint was made against her post, suggesting that it was discriminating against white people. Rather than actually being a racial discrimination issue (whether you can be racist against white people or not is a whole other discussion), it seems like the issue was actually one of political protest. Khan, and the Dalhousie Student Union, are hardly the first to comment on the unquestionable oppression of Canada’s indigenous people. So why did the University get up in arms about this particular issue? Apparently it was an issue of Canadian pride.
Dalhousie University has about the same number of people as Brock. With a population that size, there’s bound to be some disagreement on certain political issues, particularly ones as big as Canada 150. Rather than supporting a student’s freedom of speech, Dalhousie chose to go the route of censoring her opinions. What, then, is the place of a University? Are we here to be taught a particular set of thoughts? Do young people go to University for the purpose of learning how to think the right things — for example that Canada and it’s government are wonderful and flawless — or do we come here for the purpose of learning to think for ourselves?
At Brock, our school prides itself on teaching “both sides of the brain.” While the tag line itself might be a little bit corny, it does suggest that the University wants to support experiential learning. Brock pushes us to develop as individuals and become the best versions of ourselves. In short, Brock seems to want us to be individuals. It’s hard to tell while we’re still inside our closed system whether that’s true in practice as well as in theory.
I firmly believe that it is the place of universities to teach us how to think, rather than what to think. Critical thinking skills will be what is most helpful for us out in the ‘real world.’ When we finally leave the Brock bubble, being able to judge for ourselves whether the things happening around us are good, bad, or something else, will make or break us. In the end, we all succeed or fail on our individuality instead of how well we fall in with the herd. It’s that herd mentality that causes populist movements, fear of the unknown, and causes people and governments to cling to tradition even when they must know that it’s wrong. If universities stop people from calling our government on their wrongs, how long until we forget about democracy entirely? I want my University to educate me, not indoctrinate me. Censorship has no place in our schools.