On a nondescript Tuesday morning, March 8, I left Bata library to make my way to class in Gzowski.
The first encouraging signs of spring were noticeable in the small sporadic puddles of melted ice and snow, the dark greens of trees attempting to come back to vibrant life and the cheerful chirping of little birds.
The season of spring has long been symbolized as a season of new beginnings, new life. For some, spring brings with it the promise of warmer weather to take joy in and the anticipation of summer break – especially for hard working university students.
In keeping with the theme of new beginnings, at Trent spring is the season in which elections for various executive boards take place.
This inevitably means seeing loads of reminders to vote for different candidates who find clever slogans to attract attention.
On my way to class that morning, one slogan definitely caught my eye… and left a sinking feeling in my gut: “Make Trent great again.”
I’d heard that before, in many forms, and it echoed part of the platform of another candidate in another election not too far removed from us. This particular candidate, in the race for the White House in the U.S., has made statements to this effect, with clear references to anti-immigration sentiments on numerous occasions.
These prejudicial sentiments are well primed to incite intolerance for diversity.
Imagine my shock – as an international student, and therefore an immigrant to this country – as I was bombarded by the slogan plastered everywhere on the Faryon Bridge and on walls along the pathway to Gzowski.
At first, I tried to keep an open mind as to why this candidate, running for president of the TCSA, would choose this slogan.
However, as I continued to be blasted by “Make Trent great again,” I couldn’t help noting a paradox: the subtlety of the anti-immigrant message originally associated with the slogan was slowly being eroded by how often it was repeated and the large writing with which it was presented.
This large writing virtually rendered the message as being quite “in your face.” The more I saw “Make Trent great again” the more I actually read, “You! Foreigner! You’re not welcome here!”
“Make Trent great again.” LeBlanc, “again?” There’s always room for improvement but, pray tell me, what’s horribly wrong with it now?
What prevents Trent University from being considered great right now? How are you actively going to take steps to restoring the “greatness” that you imply has been lost? How do you separate such a sentiment from such a slogan and feel like it is okay to run your campaign with it?
And please, do understand, your intentions do not always match the perceptions of your audience. Furthermore, if this is some joke, meant to be “punny”… you’ve failed.
There’s an old adage that is frequently associated with spring and its unpleasant, but supposedly well-meaning side: “April showers bring May flowers.”
These showers cloud blue skies and constantly clothe the “promise of new beginnings” in a constant, sombre grey. They leave eyesores of muck and mud everywhere. The rain from these showers falls indiscriminately upon both the flowers and the weeds of the field.
Left untended, the weeds of prejudicial sentiments choke and hinder the diverse blossom of the flowers of the field. We are then deprived of potentially colourful bouquets of social progress, equality and unity.
What are we then left with? The weeds, with nothing to offer but their pollen and dander. The saddest part: we’ve got seasonal allergies and your weeds offer us only misery and discomfort.