It has been a November unlike any other. Like many others, I have continued to follow the news after the results of the American election. As the news and social media discourse has clearly indicated, many people feel profoundly affected by Trump’s win not only in the United States, but here in Canada as well. In particular, social media has highlighted the sense of anxiety felt so acutely, specifically by marginalized populations. I share the concern of many around what appears to be a heightened targeting of minority populations, and also at the loss of civil discourse around issues of ideology, rights, justice and more.
I offer my response to this heightened level of concern, anxiety and social media rhetoric that many may be feeling on campus. Firstly, for those who are feeling especially anxious, for yourself or others, you are welcome to access any of the student support resources available to you at Mt. A. These include our student development counsellors, Mental Health Educator, the online forum Beautiful Minds, our Harassment Advisor and the University Chaplain. It is important that these concerns and anxieties are given a voice; and so we talk and remind ourselves that the language and actions of misogyny, racism and Islamophobia that are on the rise are not acceptable, to us, to our campus, or to the society in which we live.
Secondly, I offer a reminder that the university should serve as a model for our larger culture as a place of free and open discourse, but that this should be conducted in an ordered, respectful and civil form. I believe this standard should apply not only to our discourse and discussion in traditional verbal and print forms, but also in social media.
Our conduct in the university community is governed by specific policies that address a wide range of issues, including equity, conduct, harassment and more, and these are available online. They are intended to safeguard the free and ordered space in which we engage in the exchange of ideas, discuss issues and nurture a sense of empathy towards all people, fully respecting the rights we all hold. It is especially important at this time that we become more familiar with the codes, policies and laws that govern our campus and our community, as well as our nation, and that as we live by them, we call to account those who do not.
For me, and from my perspective looking out at the world “through stained glass,” I recognize that the destructive “isms” of racism, sexism and fundamentalism stand in opposition to the Christian values of God’s realm enunciated by Jesus, yet they also claim divine sanction in some places. Far from the original gospel proclamation of inclusivity, equality and acceptance, of care for the stranger, of pacifism, of love, the demagoguery of Trump has inflamed a white majority population to politicize its deeper racism, sexism and fundamentalism. Perhaps the good news is that, now these “isms” are out in the open, they will be destroyed once and for all. We can also be part of that redemptive destruction.