Sunday, March 4, 2018
University Of Toronto UOIT campus posters are sexist and racist against straight, white, Christian men?
Matthew Wigmore feels privileged to be attending the prestigious University of Ontario Institute of Technology.
He just isn’t so sure it’s white privilege.
Or man privilege. Or that he’s English speaking or Christian privilege either.
“I just enjoy going to this university and getting a high quality education,” said the 24-year-old political science student, who hopes to move on to law school and one day work with sports contracts. “This is an amazing school.”
That said, Wigmore was amazed by posters he saw on the walls of the Simcoe St. campus last week.
“Shocked” might be the better word.
A headline on one side of the poster reads: “Becoming aware of privilege should not be viewed as a burden or source of guilt but rather an opportunity to learn and be responsible so that we may work toward a more just and inclusive world.”
On the other side, under a subheading, “Privilege: Unearned access to social power based on membership in a dominant social group,” there is a checklist.
The eight boxes include:
– able-bodied/physically and mentally
– access to education
– native English speaker
– Canadian citizen at birth
You read it right. This is no hoax, folks. This poster was on the walls of the campus that is shared by Durham College on Simcoe St. It even has the UOIT banner on the bottom with the kicker saying, “Student Engagement and Equity.”
So much for Dr. Martin Luther King’s edict to judge a person not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.
Wigmore couldn’t believe his eyes and was among the many who notified the Toronto Sun about the poster.
“I would have to check off each one since I fit each category,” he said. “Is it trying to say I am in this university because of all of these things? Or am I from Oshawa and I worked hard to get here?”
It’s crazy any student of any background could be asked such a question or be shamed for their skin colour or sexual preference. If the poster replaced any of the areas addressed with say Muslim or homosexual, Arabic speaking or black or brown, there would be people rightfully calling it inciting hate and calling for hate crime charges.
The UOIT has not returned a call for comment, but many students and alumni are upset about the posters.
“How could something like this be permitted?” asks Erika Humm. “It’s very offensive.”
Although he agrees with Humm’s position, Wigmore is not going to lay a complaint or worry about it for too long.
However, he does admit if the standard for such things were applied the same way they are for other races, religions and cultures, “these posters would be considered racist for sure.”
Wigmore is not racist and does not know anyone at the university or college who is racist.
In fact, when photographer Jack Boland and I found the poster, it was right behind three students — two of whom were black and the other appearing to have brown skin. All three rejected the notion being presented in the poster.
“It’s not right,” said one young man. “I don’t feel any racism around here.”
The two women he was with agreed — saying the poster is “ridiculous.”
They’re right. So are Matthew and Erika.
Yet the posters were there — with the school’s seal on them too.
Wigmore said if the idea is to make him feel guilt for the colour of the skin he was born in, he won’t be playing. If someone wants him to apologize for being raised Roman Catholic, that’s not going to happen either.
“I am not ashamed of who I am,” he said, adding his schoolmates are also not ashamed at being from whatever race or background they are from.
“Race or any of these issues are not an issue here,” he said. “There is a lot of diversity here and a lot of harmony. It’s not a problem here.”
In fact, in three of his classes, Wigmore is “a minority,” but he said his fellow students actually don’t look at race when interacting or keep count.
Instead, they are proud Canadians and, he said, feel privileged to be.
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