It Makes Me Sick: Hate on The Guelph Campus

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Written by Josh Gilbert

The year of hate began on September 7th when two anti-queer and anti-semitic messages were scrawled dorm rooms in the south residence.

Since the beginning of the school there were 8 reported hate crimes, with three more happening over the Thanksgiving long weekend, according to the University of Guelph Campus Police.

In the 2007-2008 school year, Thana Dharmarajah of the Guelph Mercury reported 14 hate crimes on campus.

There are many tough questions and few answers when looking at how to address hate crimes on campus.

“We probably can not stop hate crimes from ever happening, but we can take them seriously and confront them when they do happen,” said Patrick Case, Director of Human Rights and Equity Office at the University of Guelph.

The university is not a bubble from society,  Case explained. At least five thousand new students enroll every year and the university does not screen students' social attitudes and perceptions.

Groups representing student populations targeted by hate on campus expressed frustration that the university administration was not doing enough to stop it.

Veronica Majewski of the Guelph Queer Equality said she was frustrated with the way they felt the university responded to hate graffitti with generic-sounding press releases.

“I think that the university is passive about it,” Majewski said.  

A group discussion in the C.J Munford Centre about hate activity on campus raised similar concerns.

“If the university doesn’t do things to diminish hate, multicultural students from diverse backgrounds will go to other schools,” warned Yonae Rolle, Vice-President of the C.J. Munford Centre.

It was a misconception that the university administration goes lightly on hate crimes, Case responded.

The University has a Human Rights policy directed by the HREO, which dictates how to deal with different circumstances of hate. The university also maintains a hate crimes committee composed of students and administration to discuss and pursue instances of hate, deterrents and ideas to minimise hate activity.

When a hate crime is reported, the campus police and HREO immediately open investigations. All hate graffiti or propaganda is quickly documented and removed, Case said.

If someone is caught perpetrating a hate crime on campus, they arecriminally charged and then brought before a university judiciary committee composed of students and faculty. Perpetrators can face suspension, expulsion and heavy fines.

These are the ways hate activity is dealt with administratively, but how do students, clubs and student organisations deal with hate?

Last year Students United Against Racism held a Canada-wide Task Force On Campus Racism. Th hosted a public awareness event aimed at hearing peoples stories of racism on the Guelph campus. 

Yonae Rolle was one of the few students who proposed ideas for minimising hate activity and building student momentum against discrimination.

“We should create a month of no tolerance for hate to bring awareness to the fact of multicultural diversity on campus, so people can understand each others beliefs,” suggested Rolle.

Unfortunately, the event itself was poorly attended and few student clubs sent representatives, Rolle said.

The university recently released a new set of anti-hate posters, while the campus Wellness Entertainment Troupe was set to perform live impromptu anti-hate skits around the Guelph campus.

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