Carleton student government amends discrimination policy

The Carleton University Students’ Union (CUSA) council voted yesterday to approve controversial amendments to their “Discrimination on Campus Policy” by a vote of 19-7.

Many students attended the meeting on Dec. 12
Many students attended the meeting on Dec. 12

Many students attended the meeting on Dec. 12

By GARRETT BARRY

The Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) council voted yesterday to approve controversial amendments to their “Discrimination on Campus Policy” by a vote of 19-7.

The amendments removed a clause that banned pro-life groups from using student union resources and funding. It also removed reference to any specific group banned under the policy in favour of more universal language.

Vanessa Chipi, an Arts and Social Sciences councillor who introduced the motion, said the previous policy was not representing all students.

“The changes to this policy were a long time coming. It needed to be changed. The policy essentially was discriminatory towards people that had views that were outside of the norm.”

“CUSA [should have] the ability to protect every single student. Every student is a fee-paying member into CUSA, there’s no reason why they should be discriminated against.”

The policy still contains clauses that will restrict activities of groups on campus that “advocates for and/or perpetuate violence and discrimination” based on race, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation and gender identity. But opponents to the amendments said the new language introduced to the policy weakens protections for minority groups.

Previously, the policy banned specific groups such as the KKK and the White Aryan Resistance.

An open letter against the motion, which councillor Kaylee Cameron said was signed by almost 200 people, said the proposed changes will create “hostile environments”

“It’s clear that this motion, by removing [some] long established safeguards, takes a dangerous step away from the supportive and safe community that Carleton students have fought so long to build.”

The policy now specifically says that CUSA will “work to prevent groups or persons who promote hate or discrimination from coming to Carleton University.” Chipi says the motion “in no way, shape or form” weakens the current policy on discrimination.

Many students and councillors voiced concern about a particular clause in the amended policy which states that all CUSA employees “will encourage positive and respectful discussion of all opinions and beliefs without bias or discrimination against those with differing views or opinions.”

Sarah McCue, the program coordinator at CUSA’s Food Centre says that clause could force employees to entertain discriminatory viewpoints in conversation and take away reserved spaces for minority groups if it was followed.

“Those spaces are something that’s really valued by communities. The [women’s and trans only space] is used every single day by folks who need to go in there for breast feeding, just to talk, for peer support, for prayer space.”

CUSA vice president Michael De Luca said at one point that the proposed changes would not effect service centres, but when asked again made no comment.

Currently, CUSA policies state that the vice president of student services, Fatima Hassan, has “the authority” over all CUSA service centres. She is responsible to make sure the services are “responsive to the changing needs” of students.

Hassan did not respond to interview requests.

Under the changed policy, the student union will also create an oversight council which monitors the materials used by all CUSA-approved student groups. The CUSA Oversight committee has the authority to make any CUSA student group stop using any material which the committee finds inappropriate.

The committee members will be decided in January.

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3 Comments on Carleton student government amends discrimination policy

  1. Censorship! I’m embarrassed to be affiliated with the folks that are steering this ship into the ground. I can’t believe that these councillors voted in favor of blatant censorship. I can see how people want their CUSA money back when kids like this are “running” the show.

  2. This is disgusting, and I am absolutely horrified. And beyond that, I have no thoughts to spare or waste on this utter garbage. The people who made this change a reality should be severely ashamed of themselves.

  3. ^^ Everyone has their right to their own opinion. If you do not believe in the things that these people believe in ignore them, simple as that. I constantly see groups on campus that I do not care about, yet I just steer clear and mind my own business. If others learned to do the same the world might be a more peaceful place.
    We all pay for CUSA, there is no opting out part. This gives fair opportunity to each and every student to connect with other students who have similar views. I understand some people and groups are very harsh on how they approach people and other student groups, sometimes using foul language, harassment and violence, but by limiting their involvement within a student association that is there to represent everyone is undemocratic and creates a democratic deficit.
    The new policy even says it will work to discourage groups that promote hate and discrimination from coming to Carleton. If we all want to make this a happier place and grant human rights for all, we must entertain all views and beliefs, that is how democracy works.
    In the end I have come to Carleton to get a degree, make friends, and have ever lasing memories of the best 4 years of my life. I dont see why you cannot let others enjoy these years in their own way as well. If being part of a student group that might be considered “bad” under current CUSA policy is what you want, go ahead. You make your own life choices, choose them wisely and dont waste your time and effort on things you dont believe in.

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