Two white students were banned from a meeting by the Racialized Students’ Collective Unit (RSU) in Ontario on March 11. Trevor Hewitt and Julia Knope were informed that since they weren’t victims of racism, they weren’t allowed to participate, the Ryersonian reports.
Hewitt explained to the woman setting up the event that he wanted to cover it for a school assignment. She asked him and Knope if they’ve ever experienced racism. When the answer was no, the woman clarified that since he and his friend haven’t been discriminated against, they couldn’t stay for the meeting. Hewitt and Knope, both first-year journalism students, left the room.
According to the group’s Facebook page, the The Racialized Students’ Collective is part of the Ryerson Students’ Union that “opposes all forms of racism and work towards community wellness for students. We seek to responsibly reflect, represent and serve racialized students.”
Knope shares that she had a feeling of embarrassment over being dismissed from the anti-racism group. She doesn’t agree with white students being banned from these types of events.
“It felt really bad … kind of embarrassing. If their goal in these meetings was to end racialization then it needs to be something everybody is involved in. If some people are causing the problems, they need to know. Grouping yourself off … is not going to accomplish anything.”
She further points out that why does their group say they’re a “public” forum and an RSU campaign for others to attend?
RSU coordinator Vajdaan Tanveer told the Ryersonian that the group is designed to be a place minority students can be in a safe place to talk about anything.
“We don’t want (racialized) students to feel intimidated, that they can’t speak their mind because they are afraid of being judged or something they say might be used against them.”
Tanveer was asked by the news source if it’s true Hewitt and Knope were turned away from the RSU meeting. He said the students were white and that’s why they were excluded from the gathering.
“In terms of educating, we have some events for public. We use the opportunity to tell them about the work and how they can get involved.”
RSU is committed to fostering a community of tolerance, as its website states. It describes their mission as “building an anti-racist network” and “fostering an anti-racist environment through campus-wide services, campaigns and events.”
Did the anti-racism group go too far in promoting racial awareness by allowing white students to be banned from the meeting?
[Photo Credit: Racialized Students’ Collective Unit / Facebook]