Letters to the editor: March 26

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RE: Hypersensitivity impedes on collective development

The Diversity and Equity Office houses three student-run services: the Association of Black Students, the Centre for Women and Trans People and the Rainbow Centre. On a daily basis, these spaces are filled with engaged students applying their learning, discussing social justice issues and challenging the injustices they witness and face in their day-to-day lives.

In last weeks’ editorial section of the Cord a piece ran entitled “Hypersensitivity Impedes Collective Development.’ In this piece, criticisms of the “Jamaican Me Crazy” event were called “unwarranted” and “completely benign”, and as the title implies, those making these criticisms were labeled as “hypersensitive.”

When we first learnt about the “Jamaican Me Crazy” event we wrote a letter to the organizers expressing ours and our students’ concerns. We wrote: “Based on your event description, it is framed in a way that makes light of the history of colonialism in Jamaica, normalizes cultural appropriation and perpetuates the stereotype of Jamaicans as partiers.

Recognizing that although you, as organizers, may have not intended to do so, the impact of this on our students and the larger community at Laurier is real.” We ended our letter by offering suggestions about how to make the event more inclusive, and how to engage in Jamaican culture in a more respectful way. To us, this does not sound like an impediment to collective development, but rather a step in the right direction.

We wrote that letter because many DEO students were critical of the framing of the ‘Jamaican Me Crazy” event, and apprehensive about how inclusive the proposed party would be. There are many committed allies who volunteer at the DEO, but most students who volunteer here have an embodied connection to the issues their centre(s) represent.

We are writing this letter because we feel it is insulting to call their criticisms unwarranted and it’s highly dismissive to label people who express these criticisms as “hypersensitive.” We’d like to re-label DEO students (and others across campus who took issue with this event and its framing) as dedicated social-justice warriors. We’d like to thank them for voicing their opinions, and for doing the hard work of fighting for a more just and inclusive campus culture.
–Diversity and Equity Office

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