On-campus intolerance: a Western tradition?
Western: home to the leaders of thinking or so we are told. Despite our green campus and beautiful buildings, for over 40 years many students haven't seen the perfect image of Purple Pride...
Oct. 1960: The International Students Club was established
to support foreign students coming to Canada. The club was opened as a
resource for students who are unfamiliar with Canadian traditions.
Mar. 1961: At a Model Parliament meeting, a Ghanaian
student openly condemned South African apartheid. He urged for South Africa's
expulsion from the Commonwealth, and, despite Tory opposition, Liberals
wanted the motion to be passed. At the meeting, the Ghanaian student also
motioned to revamp Canada's "outdated and discriminatory" Immigration
Jan. 1962: Western's Psychology Club had a guest speaker
talk about sexual deviants. The speaker told the club that "homosexuals
and other deviates" could be treated at a forensic clinic he founded
in Toronto, the first and only one of its kind.
Nov. 1963: The International Students Club and Friendly
Relations with Overseas Students collaborated to help foreign students
adjust to Canadian customs, traditions and the English language. The two
organizations created a summer "cram" course for foreign students
to better prepare them for the Canadian lifestyle.
Oct. 1968: A Western student was refused service at The
Ceeps for voicing his opinion on politics and religion.
Nov.-Dec. 1970: In the first part of a week-long series
of lectures at the London Public Library, Kathy Kopinak, a Western sociology
graduate, spoke about "Women in History." In her controversial
lecture, she stressed the importance of breaking down structural barriers
to allow women to develop as human beings, and talked about the lack of
great women role models throughout history and in literature. Kopinak
described the history of women's suffrage in Ontario and how the movement
ran out of steam after women obtained the right to vote.
Mar. 1973: Toronto immigration lawyer Charles Roach spoke at
Western denouncing discriminatory practices by the Canadian immigration
authorities. In his lecture, Roach claimed that even though the written
discriminatory practices were removed from the Immigration Act in 1967,
discrimination had not ended.
Nov. 1977: A video presented by the London Police Department
entitled How to say no to a rape and survive, sparked serious debate.
It recommended being submissive, and that women should "offer [the
rapist] sexual favours... and escape [only] when the opportunity arises."
In November, a woman approached The Gazette claiming the video
did not work; she had been raped. She was afraid to struggle under the
film's false warnings. The rapist was caught, but was later released due
to lack of evidence. It was difficult to build a case against the rapist
because he claimed the woman did not resist his advances after following
the advice of the film. The LPD later ceased public viewing of the film.
Dec. 1977: The first Canadian study of rape, "Rape:
The price of coercive sexuality," was published. The study's co-author,
Lorenne Clark, believed rape should be considered assault, not a sexual
crime. "It's far worse to be seriously injured than it is to be raped,"
she said. At the time of the study, women were viewed as property, passing
ownership from father to husband.
May 1978: On the door of the International Students'
Club office the words "Niggers beware" were printed. The message
was signed by the "KKK" and an illustration of a swastika was
drawn. Margaret Ingraham, president of the club, was quoted as saying
that the prank was "vindictive and shallow" and "the product
of a sick mind." Ingraham went on to say the purpose of the club
was "to introduce people from various cultures... obviously, we failed
to reach someone."
May 1978: Students protested the university's involvement
with South Africa. The protest was set a week before the Board of Governors
were to determine its investment policy. The University Students' Council
Board of Directors refused to give money to the coalition to assist them
with running the protest. At the time, Western had $1 million invested
in Canadian corporations that traded with South Africa.
Sept. 1978: Former Miss America, author, singer, mother
and professed evangelist Anita Bryant came to London Gardens, as part
of her Canada-wide tour, to share her testimony of faith in God through
scriptures. Bryant sparked controversy because of her open and aggressive
opposition to homosexuality. Outside the entrance to the Gardens, approximately
100 gay rights demonstrators gathered with placards and bull horns.
Oct. 1978: A second-year law student at Western, Clarris
Kelly, was denied a Via Rail train ticket because she was confined to
a wheel chair. She was refused access to a train from London to Kingston
by the station manager because she could not board the train without assistance.
Oct. 1978: The Arab and Islamic Student Association's
office was vandalized. The door to the office, which was located in a
tunnel between Somerville House and D.B. Weldon Library, was forced open.
Posters were ripped down from the walls, and broken glass covered the
Sept. 1980: In a letter to The Gazette, an employee
of The Bookstore wrote, "The Orientals will steal anything, and keep
stealing. When they are caught, they beg, cry and plead not to be sent
to the police." Several students wrote The Gazette to complain
about the employee's racism.
Sept. 1980: Law professor C. Blackhouse produced a booklet,
entitled "London Battered Women's Legal Handbook," designed
to aid and advise women on how to use the legal aid system and how to
contact police, courts, temporary shelters, and government agencies.
Nov. 1980: A male student drew a comic strip printed
in The Gazette, depicting a man raping a woman. Letters of complaint
later appeared in The Gazette opposed to the message that women
are objects, and like to be raped.
Feb. 1981: Western's Right to Life organization protested
Dr. Henry Morgentaler's pro-choice speech. The organization believed pregnancy
includes two people mother and child, whereas Morgentaler believed
that women have a fundamental right to control their own bodies.
Mar. 1981: When assistant professor of physical education
Jane Gregory was denied tenure, she fought the decision at the Ontario
Rights Commission. Gregory said she saw a trend toward a smaller proportion
of female faculty members at Western and across Canada. Former male dean
of the faculty, E.F. Zeigler, said the faculty was unconsciously chauvinistic.
Jul. 1981: A special patrol of campus was initiated due
to several female assaults. Three male patrollers walked around campus
with radios linked to the security desk. The men were supervised by an
officer in a security vehicle.
Feb. 1982: The Senate's appointee to the Board of Governors,
Louise Forsyth, said there was statistical evidence of sexual bias in
hiring procedures at Western. She said people at Western were led to believe
there was a lack of qualified women in the job market.
Dec. 1984: Abdeen Jabara, a director of the American
Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, was appalled by the USC's lack of
respect and outright discrimination against Arabs. A club dedicated to
the recognition and beliefs of all states in the Middle East was "shamefully
denied official club status by the USC," Jabara said. He later appealed
to the USC to adopt new principles in its clubs policy so that such discrimination
could be abolished.
Jan. 1985: A survey of Canadian universities revealed
that the number of reported rapes was on the rise during the mid-'80s.
In 1984, four women reported being raped despite the presence of Western
security patrols and student police. Shockingly, Blanche Savage of the
London Rape Crisis Centre said, "Women will often risk being raped
rather than being rude." Experts stressed the need for men to examine
their attitudes toward women in order to decrease the likelihood of rape.
Feb. 1985: Priests and students were overwhelmed with
shock when news broke of the desecration of the King's College Chapel.
The vandals bypassed the security guard and proceeded to turn the alter,
tabernacle and crucifix upside down.
Nov. 1986: The USC's ombudsperson sought the establishment
of a racism policy within the Student Code of Conduct.
Mar. 1987: People of UWO Divestment declared Friday,
Mar. 27 as "Anti-Apartheid Day" and encouraged the Western community
to wear black in solidarity for South Africa.
Apr. 1987: Demeaning cheers taught to frosh during O-Week,
which included the phrases "she loves to gang-bang," "whip
her 'til she screams" and "pork her 'til she squeals,"
were pulled by the USC after concern was expressed that the chants were
illegal under the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Sept. 1987: Members of an Arabic student group filed
formal human rights complaints against Western with the Ontario Human
Rights Commission after the USC failed to ratify the club, citing its
"extremist pro-Arab positions."
May 1988: A Western female student was assaulted by an
unidentified man with a razor. The assailant said, "I like girls,"
as he dragged his victim into the bushes before being scared off by nearby
Sept. 1988: Students leaving Homophile Association of
London Ontario (then a gay bar in London) were attacked, following arrests
made the prior weekend of 40 gay and bisexual men for having sex in the
washrooms of a local mall.
Jun.-Nov. 1990: A three-part series called "The
Psychology of Phillipe Rushton" appeared in The Gazette,
which detailed Rushton's theory of racial inequality. His theory associated
race with intelligence and other traits. He claimed that, on average,
Asians ranked higher than Caucasians, who ranked higher than blacks, on
over 60 different variables such as intelligence, law abiding and marital
stability, and spurred a storm of controversy spreading all the way overseas.
Despite the raging disapproval surrounding his research, Rushton refused
to "back away" from what he felt so strongly about.
Jan. 1993: Western's first gay and lesbians studies course,
"The Gay and Lesbian Challenge: Art and Literature After Stonewall,"
generated a high degree of interest. Despite the overwhelming interest
in the course, there were still those who voiced their concerns, stating
they found the interest "disturbing" and that the courses were
obviously "lesbian and gay positive".
Sept. 2000: The Promisekeepers, a group that offers resources
to help men take leadership roles in their families, caused quite a stir
in London. Western came under fire for renting out Thompson Arena to house
the group's meeting, with community members concerned that the organization
was both sexist and homophobic. At the meeting, speakers included London
Mayor Diane Haskett. Her presence sparked accusations that she had a Christian
agenda, but Haskett claimed she spoke at the meeting as a member of the
community, not as the mayor.
Sept. 2002: Earlier this school year, a Western student
was the victim of hate crime. The Western student was leaving a London
gay bar, Club 181, when she was attacked by two young men, one of whom
was wearing a shirt that said, "I hate mother-fucking niggers."
The assailants have yet to be apprehended.
Sept. 2002: Following the terrorist attacks of Sept.
11, 2001, Western's Muslim community made extra efforts to clarify the
nature of their Islamic faith. Their efforts to spread awareness of the
religion included lectures and speakers hosted by professors, the Muslim
Students' Association and the Arab Students' Association.
Contributors: Nicole D'Cruz, Lorraine Forster, Sarah Lasch, Lori Mastronardi,
Lori MacIntyre, Ila Seegobin