The Faculty of Health Sciences at Western University in Ontario is reminding students they have “important roles to play in helping make Western a safer, proactive space to learn and grow.” As a part of this role, the school formed an “Anti-Racism Task Force” to “dismantle whiteness” and “prevent… other forms of systemic oppression” within its faculty.
This is not the only controversial facet of the institution’s extensive diversity, equity, and inclusivity machine. Suggested reading for students regarding the topic of race are titles such as, “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism,” “White Supremacy and Me,” “Decolonizing Antiracism,” and Ibram X. Kendi’s contested “How to Be An Antiracist.”
Western was also in the spotlight recently after an image of a presentation slide on the topic of “microaggressions” which was allegedly a part of the school's DEI training surfaced, according to Truth North.
According to the slide, a microaggression is “a comment or action, whether intentional or unintentional, that expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group.” Among the examples were comments about hiring based on merit and seeing individuals as more than the colour of their skin.
Attendees are encouraged to identify “locations of oppression” and “privilege” in fictional examples and to “continuously reflect” on the “power and privilege” they possess, as detailed in a thread on X (formerly known as Twitter).
“This white silence, white privilege and white shame leads to a lot of white complicity in white supremacy," reads a quote on one of the slides from Layla F. Saad, author of "White Supremacy and Me."
As a part of their effort to combat race-based privilege, the university has dedicated almost $900,000 worth of scholarship money exclusively to black and Indigenous students, as well as developing a number of internship programs specific to black students.
Dr. Opiyo Oloya, assistant vice president of equity, diversity, and inclusion at Western, is confident initiatives like the “Anti-Racism Task Force” and DEI training will create “a safe, secure and open space [for] a multitude of diverse voices.”
“I saw my job, and still see my job, as leading people and uniting community.”
Western University also faced scrutiny in 2022 for attempting to implement a vaccine mandate for staff, students and visitors. In that instance, the school rescinded its mandate after public backlash.