Last week, posters calling for the establishment of a “White Students Union” surfaced at the University of Toronto, York University, and Ryerson University campuses. They were promptly taken down. Accompanying the headline was a link to a website for the group Students for Western Civilization. U of T did not license the posters.
Sania Khan, vice-president, equity for the University of Toronto Students’ Union, said that her initial reaction to the posters was one of complete shock and anger. She also said that a white students’ union is an inherently racist concept.
“In Toronto, racism doesn’t only just look like overt name-calling, harassment, and discrimination. What racialized folks often have to further navigate through are the subtle expressions of racism, dominance and white supremacy that we encounter on a daily basis,” Khan said.
Khan stated that it was important to condemn groups like Students for Western Civilization, but that the roots of subtle racism should be examined in further detail. Khan added that, at U of T, it is predominantly white people who occupy positions of authority and that conversations about the ramifications of this power structure need to be held accountable.
“[This power structure] thrives off of upholding practises of white culture, while isolating students who choose to resist conforming to standards and practices of performative whiteness,” she said. “[This] conversation of subtle racism, dominance and white supremacy is incredibly necessary at the very least.”
Those responsible for the posters did not respond to The Varsity’s request for comment.
Their website reads that a white students’ union is needed in order to combat growing racism towards white people on campus. The website also states that racism is a result of liberal indoctrination.
It further states that white people are labeled as “oppressors” while all other races are labeled “oppressed” by neo-Marxists. “This cultivates extreme feelings of enmity toward whites, which is a hate crime.”
The Students for Western Civilization submitted an article to Excalibur, York University’s student newspaper, which the paper declined to published. In the article, they claim that there are no conservative instructors in arts programs at York. “As far as we can tell there is not a single socially conservative professor within any of the liberal arts departments at York University.”
Students for Western Civilization believe a white students’ union will combat these “hate crimes,” and that “A white students’ union would help cultivate a white identity while advancing the political interests of Western peoples.”
The webpage claims that the ultimate goal of the group is to eliminate the “liberal indoctrination” of York students, and to establish what they consider to be a fair academic system. “A white students’ union would allow students to explore the avenues of racial politics which are not available currently under the liberal indoctrination of York University,” reads their website.
For her part, Khan hopes to continue the dialogue about everyday manifestation of structural and systemic racism throughout her term in office.