Student collective ‘wluchangeisdue’ demands Laurier takes action against racism

Graphic by Kashyap Patel

Wilfrid Laurier University’s leadership is facing criticism from a collective of students and community members who claim the school has failed to protect racialized and marginalized students at Laurier.

The campaign, entitled “wluchangeisdue,” has declared a lack of action against tenured professors David Haskell and William McNally, whom the collective claims need to be held accountable for their acts of racism.“Wilfrid Laurier University has open racists on its faculty in tenured positions, and the leadership has for years deflected calls for action. Well, #wluchangeisdue,” read the statement on Instagram.

The collective believes that Laurier President Deborah MacLatchy and the school executive leadership have not done enough to condemn faculty members for Anti-Black, Anti-Indigenous and Anti-POC racism on campus.

“We think it is extremely clear that president Deborah MacLatchy has failed in her capacity as a leader to truly ensure that all of the students here at Wilfrid Laurier University, no matter the program, year, or class, can feel safe, respected, and treated [with] dignity …” the collective said in an email statement.

“Laurier loves to claim that it’s ‘number one in student satisfaction’; clearly they have never spoken to BIPOC, LGBTQIA2S+ students, or practically any marginalized group that does not fit the heteronormative [cisgender] white standard that is everywhere on campus.”

The email statement also addresses the right to freedom of speech on campus but condemns racist and discriminatory speech.

“We at wluchangeisdue believe in the importance and strength of Freedom of Speech. Historically those on the left have always been erased, silenced, shut down, and expelled for our views that ran in contradiction with the status quo of white supremacy. However, there is a difference between freedom of speech and hate speech,” the statement read.

“Like the famous case of Neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier David Irving (who stated that Jews were never gassed and systemically murdered at Auschwitz) and the illegality of yelling fire in a crowded theatre, there are consequences for one’s hateful speech. These two mediocre white men essentially cower behind their tenured position which allows them to suffer virtually no repercussions for their actions. This must change.Immediately.”

Wluchangeisdue addressed this comparison in a follow-up post on Instagram.

“McNally and Haskell can spew whatever vitriol they want, but if they still expect to be tenured faculty while also being white supremacists: honey, you got a big storm coming,” the post read.

The collective’s statement on Instagram lists their “demands,” or calls to action for the school, with the ultimate goal of dismantling racist campus culture and holding those involved accountable.

“Our demands have laid out the process in which we feel as a collective of students and citizens can help transform the culture on campus and help to erase the hurt that is felt by marginalized students. It is of the utmost importance that there is a renegotiation of tenure contracts,” the statement read.

As a part of their demands, the collective also believes that the school must allow the WLU Faculty Association to initiate an independent investigation, using information and testimonies provided by the collective and from students, as well as information gathered from the Being Raced study — a report done by an undergraduate research team that investigates the experiences of racialized students on campus.

Wilfrid Laurier University responded to these calls to action in an email statement provided on behalf of the school.

“Wilfrid Laurier University supports the right of our students and faculty to freely express their views about a range of issues, including criticizing the administration and vigorously and respectfully opposing the ideas of other Laurier community members,” the statement said.

“Like many universities, we recognize that we have work to do to build a more diverse and inclusive community at Laurier, including addressing racism, which is why we are working hard to implement the steps in the Action Plan for Equity, Diversity, andInclusion and Indigeneity.”

“We want to hear from all members of the Laurier community about ways to strengthen this work, and we are happy to meet with students to discuss their ideas and concerns,” the statement read.

The “wluchangeisdue” collective concluded their email statement by calling on the institution to reflect on-campus culture.

“Just like the dismantling of racist statues glamorizing white supremacy, colonialism, and genocide, we as an institution must look inward and start to dig out the rot that has permeated our campus,” the statement said.

“This change is long overdue, and it’s so disgusting that it took a student uprising to actually create change. Our leaders have failed us. It’s time for this generation to take the lead. wluchangeisdue will not rest until everyone on campus can be proud to call Laurier their home.”

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