Friday, March 18, 2011

Racism - Brief Facts About Queen's

Okay, so, it's definitely too sunny and beautiful outside to even remotely consider doing work. But, alas, I have to. There's too much to do, and as a result, I'm currently drowning my sorrows at the library with a delicious cookie (courtesy of Josephine) and a pile of readings that need to be read by tonight. I can't even think about the amount of work I need to do in the next couple of weeks. Too much. Too much.

And so, I am blogging. Because, clearly, I have my priorities straight.

But anyway, this should be a quick post. My officemate is writing a pretty interesting paper right now on the implications of gender, class, and race on getting a university education here at Queen's.

Interesting, right?

While hunting around for books at Stauffer this morning, Dear Officemate gave me a run-down on her research so far: quick historical facts about getting a Queen's education, specifically about race. Here's a few I thought I'd share.

Fact 1 - Carribean medical students were kicked out of Queen's Medical School in the 1960s, as students coming back from the war refused to attend school with coloured students.

Fact 2 - In the last seven years, fourteen faculty members of colour have quit. Why? For an example of racism against a faculty member, click here. A task force dealing with systematic racism against faculty members of colour was established in 2007.

Fact 3 - A majority of national studies on racism at Canadian universities cite Queen's as the primary example of racism against students at any Canadian university. On the basis of university policy and social atmosphere and acceptance.

Fact 4 - Did you guys know that Alfie's is named after a homeless coloured man who used to "live" outside the JDUC? Think about that when you get your dance on at the Alfie's area tonight!

Fact 5 - Just last year, Queen's issued a warning regarding racial vandalism of student property (graffiti with racial slurs). To read the the University's statement, click here.

These are just five of a number of facts (and, generally, evidence) that demonstrate how racism is still a potential problem in the Queen's community today. My officemate is still researching the topic, but interesting paper nonetheless, yea? I can't wait to read the paper in its entirety. Facts like these are always so fascinating, and I love it when writing a paper can actually be fun. Though I'll admit that in regards to the facts above, I'm not too surprised. So interesting. My paper on (the implications of class on the consumption of) cocaine now seems to pale in comparison.

Okay, so. Back to work. I only wrote this post in an effort to procrastinate.

Happy Weekend, everyone! Please have some fun for me while I camp out all weekend at the library.

"Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives."
- C.S. Lewis


  1. Hey Barb,

    Nice blog, this posting is very interesting and enlightening. I thought I was over-analysing some racist behaviour that I have been exposed to... But it seems there's some truth and history to it!


  2. Hey Rami! Thanks for reading :) I don't think you're over-analyzing. Particularly since we're dealing with a city that isn't as diverse as Toronto or Montreal (what we're used to). ;) Have a great weekend! Enjoy the weather (while it lasts)!

  3. Hey there. Long time reader, first time commenter. I wanted to comment on the previous post, but it seems like the comments were closed somehow. Just wanna say that while I am usually a big fan of your stories, especially the one with the Tim Hortons truck, but this time I am on Team Guy. The guy seems very reasonable and I think you guys probably just got off on the wrong foot. My friends and I very much enjoy reading your blog, please keep up the good work.

  4. Hey Anonymous! Thanks for your comments and for reading :) Haha, good to know you are on Team Guy! Although, as a post-script, it was a very weird situation that we interpreted as a tad creepy at the time (although, after reading his explanation, I suppose it wasn't as creepy as I originally thought). Overall, it was a situation that I wasn't (my friends included) comfortable with. Which is why it was blogged about. Ah, well. I'm just glad that it won't be dealt with again ;). Hope you never have to run into a situation like that! :)

    Have a great weekend! Enjoy the weather! :)

  5. Hello Guys
    I was planning to come to Queens for grad studies (PhD) and I have been accepted at Waterloo as well. Just because I heard a lot of this racial issues am hesitating to come. But queens is high ranked (in my field) and the posibility of getting high profile job at high ranked institutions after graduating is bigger. So here is my question for you ' Should I go to less racist and less ranked school in my area of study because I am black?'- Please,give me your comments.

  6. Hello Anonymous! Congratulations on your acceptance! I'm a visible minority myself, and although these racial issues are brought up a lot when Queen's is involved, I didn't particularly find it hard to go to school here. In fact, adjusting came really easily. The diversity issue in Kingston has been studied a lot, but the student population is still quite diverse, and I don't think you'll find it as much as a culture shock as people say it is. I would definitely encourage you to come to Queen's, hands down, especially if it is your first choice!

  7. Hi there, having graduated from Queen's University quite a few years ago...the racism is something that I noticed often. Many of the white students only wanted to socialize with white students. There was also a great deal of subtle racism omnipresent there. The proctors at exams would assume at open book exams that minorities were trying to cheat by bringing in their books. Whereas, white students weren't bothered at all. Also, being one of a handful of minority students in the French faculty was truly an experience that I don't wish to relive. I found that my profs that were Quebecoise or those that specialized in French Canadian litterature were some of the most racist people that I have ever met in my life (note that I have lived across Canada, lived in Europe, am well-travelled, etc). Though, having also lived in Ottawa...I can say that Queen's and Kingston are far less racist than Ottawa or Montreal. Here's something that happened in Ottawa....I was going to get groceries with a friend (also a minority)on the way there...there was a party at a student rented house. A bunch of francophones yelled racial slurs at me and my friend in French then English. We walked faster but they chased us down the was horrible...and this was in 2003!?!

  8. Racism and prejudice at Queen's University is a reality. I graduated few years ago from Queen's University and that experience changed me a lot. All the academic environment is imbued with Prevention there, from professors to other peer students. Coming from Outside Canada and a totally different culture, the white Canadian students felt frequently free to ghettoize me and insult me in a way or another. Professors are very narrow-minded. If you prove you are better prepared than White Canadian students, they do their best to put you down. I cannot talk about the details of my experience at Queen's. My recommendation is to opt for another university, if you have the opportunity to do so. The world is full of good schools, there isn't only Queen's.

  9. I'm applying to Queen's concurrent edu program and being an international student, the racism worries me a bit. Having grown in up in Toronto, I'm used to the diversity and differences between races. I don't really know the extent of the racism that goes on at Queen's but like if the professeurs treat their students based on racial background, then i think that would be a problem. I know there are racist people everywhere but if a school has a reputation of being racist... I guess i'm just wondering about just how exactly severe the problem is... but i guess the experience is different for everybody...

    I'm also planning on applying to U of T, could you maybe tell me about your experiences there? And draw compares between U of T and Queen's just so I have a rough idea of each school's strengths and weaknesses? It's difficult to obtain information while living halfway across the world, thanks.

    1. Hi Jing, I am the author of the previous post. I agree with you that experiences are different for everybody, but in the case of Queen's the episodes of racism are too many and too clear to be JUST a coincidence. Just to make you understand, I am Caucasian, but from a non Canadian-non Anglo-Saxon country. I cannot write about my personal experience here, but, believe me, it was dreadful. I am used to variety and enjoy living in a multicultural context myself. I was told about many other episodes of discrimination by those directly concerned. These students were Asian, African and Southern American. Many white Canadian students hate Queen's themselves.
      There were cases where non white-blue-eyed-blond- Canadian students had to drop their studies without any explicable reason, in spite of their high standard marks. I lived in the USA too and believe me, they don't know about the existence of Queen's University at all. At the international level Queen's is just one university like all the others. On the other hand, U of T has a wider and consolidated reputation in all the areas even outside that maple leaf-syrup flagged country.

      I repeat, my advice is opting for another (and better from any perspective) university.
      You may find healthier-minded people at U of T or anywhere else:).

  10. Be aware of Racism at Queen's University

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