I am writing in response to your editorial about recent discriminatory events on campus. Your student union, UTMSU, has a long history of working against all forms of bigotry. In fact, combatting bigotry is one of the main functions of our union, found within in our constitution. UTMSU “defends and safeguards the individual rights of the student, regardless of race, colour, creed, sex, nationality, place of origin, personal or political beliefs, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, citizenship, class ancestry, and mental or physical abilities”.
The union also has to respect the rights of its individual members, a right that is often ignored.
Therefore your student union representatives, after much deliberation, chose to respect the right of privacy of a recent victim of discrimination, but they also tackle homophobia and racism broadly through a campus-wide initiative. We believe that it is equally important to respect the individual rights of students that have faced bigotry and to combat all forms of discrimination.
Unfortunately, homophobia does still exist on our campus in many forms. To help combat this we have created a task force on campus homophobia. This task force will aim to record and document homophobia on campus and ways that it has been institutionalized. The hearings for the task force will take place next semester.
In response to your article on the Canadian Blood Services, we are disappointed that The Medium has chosen a title that does not reflect the union’s stance and its history of fighting all forms of discrimination. A good news source should provide both sides of the story and also reflect the correct stance of an organization through its choice of title. I would appreciate a correction that reflects the stance of UTMSU, which does not in any way justify the ban. CBS policies are examples of systemic homophobia and racism and continue to perpetuate these ideals. CBS was brought to our campus to allow lives to be saved, not to isolate some of our members.
We are proud to have initiated a campaign to change these policies. By doing so, we allow those who need blood to still have access to it while not stigmatizing members of the LGTBQ community.
The recent tragedies of students who have committed suicide should not just be taken as an isolated incident covered by The Medium as a one-week editorial. These tragedies happen too frequently and affect our community in many ways. To break the pattern, we must raise awareness by reaching out to members of our community that do not identify as LGBTQ. We must do so not through policies, but through events that facilitate discussions on a daily basis. One such event is “Xpression Against Oppression”, taking place this week (October 18 to 21); during it, we will have a vigil to commemorate the lives lost and bring together the community, calling for an end to homophobic violence.
In closing, I want to call on all students and the media to reflect on our own collective actions. Have we done enough individually to combat homophobia and other forms of discrimination? Your student union is taking steps to do so; please help us in our efforts by joining us at the Candlelight Vigil to continue building community support against homophobic and similar bullying. We will be meeting this Wednesday at 8 p.m. at the Blind Duck Pub patio. Thank you.
UTMSU VP Equity