Students feel silenced on statues

Photo by Will Huang

Photo by Will Huang

On Monday November 2, members of Students Against the Statue Project asked that the statue project be on Wilfrid Laurier University’s Board of Governors’ agenda.

The group formally requested to speak and submit documentation at the board’s meeting on November 26.

Rather than having the opportunity to speak at the board meeting, Students Against the Statue Project received an email on November 5 about Laurier’s special advisory committee to review the project.

“On Thursday they emailed us back and basically just directed us to the university statement and said that the statue project has been taken off of the agenda,” said Jaydene Lavallie, fourth-year global studies student and a core organizer of Students Against the Statue Project.

The statues project has been a controversial discussion on the Laurier campus since the John A. Macdonald statue was installed on June 30.

Students have created petitions both for and against the project, professors have spoken up against it, a sit in was done on the current John A. Macdonald statue and multiple letters have been sent to The Cord.

On October 20, a motion was passed by the Senate to oppose the installation of the other prime minister statues and recommended the board of governors cancel Laurier’s involvement in the project.

The Students Against the Statue Project group include students, faculty and community members, many of whom believe the installation of the statues does not “accurately portray the diversity of the university or community.”

“In my opinion, the board of governors meeting is open to the public, any students could’ve shown up, a lot of students could’ve shown up,” said Lavallie.

According to Lavallie, the group planned on asking student to show their support in opposition to the project.

The group has asked to be informed as to how representatives of the special advisory committee will be chosen. So far, they haven’t received a response.

“It takes away the public aspect of it now, we can only put in any input through one of those representatives, we won’t actually be able to speak.”

Although the group has yet to speak to the board, the group believes their dedication to stop the statues has put pressure on the university.

“We would have preferred if they’d made this decision to open up this committee after the board of governors meeting, which would’ve allowed us to speak and then they could’ve formed the committee,” Lavallie said.

As of now, members of Students Against the Statue Project are continuing to gather letters of supports from different campus clubs and individuals.

The group hopes to submit to each representative of the advisory committee.

“We would probably would have to reformulate our strategy once we know what kind of meetings they’re having and what they’re discussing. Right now we have no idea.”

Joel Peters, assistant vice-president of external relations, asserts he did not hear about the group’s request.

Peters believes David McMurray, vice-president of student affairs and chair of the special advisory committee, will make sure various views and perspectives about the project are brought forward.

“There’s a full understanding on all sides and different ramifications to the issue,” said Peters. “Apologies that [Lavallie] didn’t hear it, it’s not something I was aware of, but certainly this process is meant to be very open and consultative with respect to the various forces on campus.”

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