Hundreds of UNB faculty and staff reject white supremacist posters on campus

Written by Lucas Crawford, Carmen Elison, Sabine Lebel and Triny Finlay on October 10, 2017

Three hundred staff and faculty of the University of New Brunswick have signed a strong statement that rejects white supremacy on campus. Read the letter and view the list of signatories here.

The letter is a response to the recent postings of racist materials on campus. One of these posters followed the tradition of Aryan propaganda, which seeks to promote the superiority of white people. Another poster expressed the view that “equality” is not a positive attribute.

Similar posters have been linked to a group The Southern Poverty Law Center (a leading US civil rights organization) defines as an “Active White National Hate Group” and have been found on university campuses across the US, including the University of Maryland, Purdue University in Indiana, the University of Central Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University, the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith and Emerson College in Massachusetts.

The letter asserts that the timing and placement of these posters were not accidental. Not only did the posters appear near residences that house many international students, but they appeared at the same time that STU was holding a conference about the demands of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Most pointedly, several posters were placed directly on a sign that reads “KULASIHKULPON,” a Maliseet expression of welcome. As the letter states, the signees “understand this incident as a direct attack on the principles of reconciliation, as well as on Indigenous people and all racialized people.”

Among the three hundred signatures are those of department chairs, senior and junior professors, research and teaching assistants, librarians, journal and newspaper editors, and a very wide variety of staff members from conference services, financial services, research services, student services, marketing, the bookstore, the registrar’s office, athletics, student recruitment, and administrative assistants from many departments and offices.

Senior signatories come from across UNB, including (but not limited to): Jula Hughes (Full Professor, Faculty of Law, Fredericton), Jennifer Andrews (Full Professor and former Chair of English, Fredericton), Bob Skillen (Vice-President, Advancement), Rob Moir (Associate Dean of Business, Saint John), Tammy Spadoni (Executive Director of College Hill Day Care Co-op, Fredericton), and Luigi Benedicenti (Dean and Full Professor, Faculty of Computer Science, Fredericton).

The purpose of the statement is 1) to express support to Indigenous and racialized students, and to let them know that overt and subtle racism will not be tolerated at UNB, and 2) to ask white students to try their very best to disrupt racism when they witness it, and to refuse to leave the hard work to those who are personally affected by racism.

Looking to the future, the letter expresses the need for more action, as well as hope. As the letter reads, “We,” as UNB faculty and staff, “can always learn and do more; we remain “students” ourselves in this way.”

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