This note has been written collaboratively by a small number of professors who would like to invite all faculty to sign on in support of student struggles against discrimination in the wake of the U.S. election.

As faculty, we are aware that many students are feeling fearful following the US election. We feel strongly that Trent, as an institution, should take a strong stand against any and all forms of violence, harassment, discrimination, and intimidation on campus.

Immediately, we ask the Trent administration to consider two points:

First, we think Trent should issue a strong and unified statement that recognizes and validates the concerns of students, particularly those from racialized groups, women, and LGBTQ students, in no uncertain terms. We need to let students know that we are aware that there have been reported incidents (on campus, in the community, and in communities across North America) in the wake of the election. More importantly, we need to let students know that we acknowledge that such incidents are targeted at certain groups, serving to reinforce existing power systems in society at large. As a university, we support free speech and critical debate; but we don’t ever support any words or actions that function to intimidate or marginalize anyone, most especially groups who hold less power and privilege within our society: women, people of colour, racialized groups, Indigenous people, members of LGBTQ communities, people with disabilities, people who do not hold Canadian citizenship, etc. By not making it clear that we, as faculty and administration, recognize this inequality of power and stand with those who are left feeling vulnerable after the election, we become complicit. This is a position that can be expressed without taking a “side” in the politics. Such a statement also does not require “evidence” of any sort. It just needs us, as an institution, to recognize the reality of who is feeling vulnerable and make clear that we will not put up with any form of harassment, violence, or threat on Trent campus.

Second, as an academic institution, there is a need to recognize the power dynamics involved when women, racialized people, LGBTQ folks, and so on, go forward to a group they see as powerful to report on such issues. We don’t have to look too far to understand that, when it comes to reporting, there is a need for extra sensitivity on the side of the institution and those security staff who are responding from the front line. We need to make it clear that we understand that there is a long history of not being believed, of not being supported, of being further victimized when it comes to reporting incidents of victimization. We are not suggesting this is a history at Trent, but we are suggesting that we don’t exist in a bubble. If we care about the safety and wellbeing of all of our students, it behooves us to also provide some extra support to security staff at this time, explaining the position we take, outlining the power dynamic that is inevitable in the reporting of incidents, and explaining that all reports must be taken seriously and responded to promptly. And students would surely feel safer knowing we were taking such an action. Ideally, we should also be providing some counseling support to those who are reporting, or to those who need it at this time.

In the longer term, we recognize that the feelings unveiled over the past weeks are not new. The election in the United States has brought to the surface a set of dynamics that already existed. Many students already felt unsafe on our campus, and in our community at large. The election and the acts that have followed throughout communities across this continent are a reminder that there is work to do. They are a reminder that racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, xenophobia, ableism, and other forms of discrimination exist and thrive. As an institution that strives to create safe and critical spaces for learning, accessible to all, we still have work to do. This is an opportunity to name the issues, to have the important conversations, and, ultimately, to stand with our students in their struggles for a fairer and more just education.

Sincerely,
 
Dr. May Chazan
Dr. Wendy Hicks
Dr. Haroon Akram-Lodhi
Dr. Sally Chivers
Dr. Feyzi Baban
Dr. Barbara Marsall
Dr. Kelly McGuire
Dr. Suzanne Bailey
Dr. Sylvie Berard
Dr. Kevin Siena
Dr. Charmaine Eddy
Dr. Colleen O’Manique
Dr. Stephanie Rutherford
Dr. Chris Beyers
Dr. Antonio Cazorla-Sanchez
Dr. Baris Karaagac
Dr. Nadine Changfoot
Dr. Devin Penner
Dr. Katie Bausch
Dr. James Wilkes
Dr.  Paul Schafer
Dr. Elaine Stavro
Dr. Hasmet Uluorta
Dr. Caroline Kay
Dr. Winnie Lem.
Dr. Anne Menely
Dr. Joan Sangster

To update the list with more faculty signatures please email [email protected]