FAUW Supports a Multicultural UW. Will You Help?

— Bryan Tolson, FAUW President

It has come to FAUW’s attention that an unofficial Laurier club has rented the Theatre of the Arts on April 30 for an event featuring Faith Goldy and Ricardo Duchesne. Goldy is a former commentator with The Rebel Media whose contract was terminated for her appearance on a white nationalist podcast. Duchesne is the author of Canada in Decay: Mass Immigration, Diversity, and the Ethnocide of Euro-Canadians. They will be discussing “multiculturalism, borders, and identity in Canada.”

I’ve checked, and the Theatre of the Arts is indeed available for public rentals whenever it isn’t being used for academic purposes (you might have noticed the dance competitions last week, for example). This is an external event, not supported or endorsed by the University of Waterloo. The speakers were not invited to campus by faculty, staff, or students. Their ideas do not reflect the views or the scholarship of our faculty, staff, or students. I personally don’t want to hear what these speakers have to say and won’t be on campus during this event.

But that’s not enough for me or FAUW because we want people who are marginalized by these messages to know that we support them.

It is important that you know that the FAUW Board thinks that the messages that will be heard at this event will be offensive and harmful to our diverse campus community and go against the values of FAUW and the University of Waterloo. We cherish our multicultural campus, with its internationalization initiatives, and Indigenization Strategy, and are committed to improving diversity, inclusivity, and equity. Everyone on campus today deserves to be here and to be respected.

How will others on this campus show such support? One approach is to gather outside and protest. Another is to buy a $20 ticket and then try to win a debate to show that the ideas being discussed are nonsense and/or harmful. While I respect anyone choosing either of these options, I think there is a better option. I personally would love to see a collective decision by our community to not engage during the event; I think this would be a uniquely Waterloo way to minimize its impacts. But I don’t want to suggest to anyone through such silence that we at Waterloo embrace all messages no matter how insulting, hurtful or discriminatory they are. We do not.

So, I offer an alternative way to make our collective views known: donate to support campus diversity. FAUW has set up a fundraiser on GoFundMe, and 100% of funds raised will be donated to Waterloo campus organizations that support marginalized groups. We will be donating to the Collective Movement Award, a student scholarship in need of funds, on behalf of UW-BASE (Black Association for Student Expression), and to Shatitsirótha’, the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre (WISC).

Even a small donation will add you to the count of people expressing their support for all members of our University community. You can remain anonymous if you wish. If you are a Waterloo student, staff, faculty member, or alumni, feel free to note that in the comment section. We request that you please leave only positive comments about this campaign.

You can choose not to engage directly in the discussion happening in the Theatre of the Arts on April 30. Instead, show your support for diversity at Waterloo by donating to the campaign and using the hashtag #multiculturalUW and the images below on social media.

[Update, April 25: We created this campaign to support diversity in our UW community. Some readers used the comment thread in abusive ways that don’t respect the Indigenous and racialized folks we are trying to support. We therefore deleted that thread and have closed comments. Thank you to our donors for their amazing support for our campaign and for their many messages of positive support for our diverse UW community.]

Read the April 26 campaign update.