Volume 91, Issue 29

Tuesday, October 21, 1997

Something fishy


Discrepancy in race pamphlet

By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos
Gazette Staff

In a Senate meeting Friday, the issue of a discrepancy in a published policy regarding racial discrimination and harassment was cause for discussion.

A pamphlet distributed by Western's Equity Services attempts to give examples of racial discrimination or harassment through verbal behaviours, physical behaviours, avoidance, exclusion and inaction, as well as within written material.

The aspect of racial discrimination and harassment within written information is not included in the university's policies regarding race relations which was the issue of concern brought forward by psychology professor Doreen Kimura.

Because of discrepancies between the university race relations policy and those outlined in the pamphlet, Kimura said there is danger of censorship for journal articles in which different cultures may be compared as part of a study or for those implying superiority or inferiority of certain individuals.

"It is fine to tell people about these policies but we need a balanced presentation," she said. She added there should be a specified person who reads the pamphlets before circulation to ensure discrepancies do not occur.

Peter Mercer, Western's VP-administration, responded to Kimura's concerns by explaining the pamphlet was not an attempt to replace the university's policy but rather to be used as a familiarization tool.

He also questioned whether the average student would think the pamphlet reflects the school's policy. "This pamphlet was designed to define our responsibilities under our policy and the Human Rights Code," Mercer said. He explained the Human Rights Code includes the element of religion as an element of race where the university policy, approved by Senate in 1994, does not.

Kimura said she has written to Bill Wilkinson, director of Equity Services, with her concerns regarding the pamphlet but has not yet received a response.

Wilkinson refused to respond to this allegation and said since he was not in attendance at Friday's Senate meeting it is hard to respond because he is not personally aware of the concerns.

Diana Reynolds, equity officer for the University Students' Council, said the policy of the USC is similar to the Ontario Human Rights Code in not only its description of race but also its exclusion of the issue of written racial material.

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Copyright The Gazette 1997