In a wave of yellow cards, the decision was made: students at last Wednesday’s CSU General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of an inquiry into racism on campus.
“They [the administration] turn a blind eye to racism,” said Youri Cormier, who along with students Fiona Becker and Maiko Ishii put forward the motion. “I want to go back there and tell them I have a thousand student voices behind me.” Cormier came close, garnering 384 votes for and only four votes against. A total of 800 students were in attendance, beating the 550 needed for quorum.
The motion calls for a joint inquiry by the CSU and Concordia administration into what Cormier called “institutionalised racism at Concordia.” According to Cormier, there have been several unanswered incidents of racism on university bodies, particularly at the Board of Governors. According to Cormier, Sobia Virk, a Muslim student governor, had asked that alcohol not be served during a meeting since it would go against her religious beliefs. Board members brushed off the request, said Cormier, telling Virk she should act “more Canadian.”
Cormier also pointed towards differences in recruiting and fundraising materials. Recruiting packages feature students of an eclectic background, primarily visible minorities. Yet fundraising materials for the university’s Planned Giving Campaign feature an all white cast. This, said Cormier, presents a very disturbing message to students.
For it’s part, the university administration has resisted the proposal since it was first brought forward. University officials have consistently denied that racism is an issue of concern on campus. No decision has yet been reached since the GA vote. University Communications Director Dennis Murphy said last week that the administration new of the vote, but had not yet been approached by the CSU. Until such a time, he said, the administration would not be acting on the vote.
Although Murphy could not comment on behalf of the administration, he did say that as a communications professor his students have consistently told him that they did not feel racism was an issue on campus.
In response to what they see as administrative foot dragging, the CSU held a press conference on Tuesday where they gave the administration until March 19 to respond to the vote. After that, according to VP Campaigns Aaron Mat