Unsigned: Laurier students deserve better

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Faith Goldy, a Canadian woman described as having alt-right leanings who was formerly affiliated with The Rebel Media, was set to be the first speaker for Laurier Students for Open Inquiry’s “Unpopular Opinions” series on March 20.

Goldy gained attention for her coverage of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville and has raised a considerable amount of local controversy regarding her presence on Laurier’s campus for her “Ethnocide: Multiculturalism and European Canadian Identity” talk.

With the actual outcome of the event aside, Wilfrid Laurier University’s administration has shown little resistance to her appearance and has made statements removing themselves as an authority and disregarded their own capability of stopping the event from happening. Under the banner of free speech, the school has made it clear that they aren’t willing to stand on a side that shuts down hate speech.

The controversy that occurred with Lindsay Shepherd in November has made it possible for Goldy’s presence to be supported and it has made it possible for her to use Laurier as another place to showcase controversial viewpoints.

Giving a platform to a person who has been accused of promoting hate speech is something that raises the question of where the university will draw the line – or if they will ever draw the line – when it comes to problematic and offensive people speaking at our university.

Laurier seems reluctant to take action — giving the impression that it’s acceptable to hold that kind of opinion in what should be an inclusive and progressive educational setting. This reluctance makes sense when one factors in the blowback that would incite if they prevented Goldy from speaking on campus.

Allowing Goldy to promote her hateful views on a campus that claims to promote diversity is only going to give more credence to others like her, increasing the amount of unease amongst students who might not feel safe – and rightfully so – with her representing a group that boasts such “unpopular opinions.”

Wider tolerance may not be supported if this is the standard that Laurier is willing to set.

The school needs to take a firmer stance on what constitutes “free speech” and how that differentiates from hate speech.

At the very least, there needs to be an examination of the booking policy that seemingly allowed this event to happen. The discrimination and trivialization of marginalized groups cannot be tolerated or excused.

Students who show their concern and upset over her presence should not be labelled as overly sensitive “snowflakes” — a term often used to devalue the lived experiences of those who are part of marginalized, racialized or oppressed groups.

These student groups — all student groups — have a right to feel outraged over Laurier’s leniency regarding Goldy’s presence on our campus and her ability to stand proudly and express her arguably questionable views.

In this situation, we look to those in positions of power to exercise their power in a means that protects students and preserves the reputation of our school. In this situation, those in positions of power have failed us.

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