Queen's Film and Media

Film and Media Studies
Film and Media Studies

Dear Principal Woolf;

We’re concerned about the gap that continues to exist between events like the recent “costume party,” and the University’s efforts to address their root causes.  We’re hoping to see a more focused form of leadership on these issues, beyond merely institutionally defensive measures.  Queen’s University should be maximizing the tools of education to help limit these pointless acts of provocation from occurring.

While there are many behaviours and actions which make students of colour feel singled out and unwelcome, some are more easily amenable to basic educational practices, and this may be one of them. It is of course possible that some or many of the offending students did not foresee the consequences that their costume party would have for those students already feeling culturally or racially vulnerable.  We think it would be wise to act on this assumption. Had they been part of an educational process that alerted them to this almost predictable outcome, this event may well not have occurred at all. An appropriate educational program would also help to undermine an unfortunately common rationalization that because an action or comment is not said to be avowedly racist in intent, the consequences cannot then be seen as racist.  Whether or not such actions are harmless is not for them to decide, and this false assumption continues to provide cover for hurtful actions.  An educational program that includes discussions concerning personal responsibility would be most welcome in the current environment. 

In addition to more energetic efforts made at the University administration level, we hope that you will encourage all departments to develop a pedagogy, tailored to their departmental and disciplinary needs, which addresses the issues of ethnic and racial representation and misrepresentation.  We would also encourage you to properly fund these efforts, as they may well require considerable time and resources, including the development of audio-visual materials, additions to websites, printed materials, class presentations, and so on. 

In light of this event, and all the others that have so tiresomely preceded it, the Film & Media Department intends to pursue these and similar proposals by organizing a department-specific program, developed by students and faculty, targeted to young students who may not have ever meaningfully confronted these issues.  We’re also anticipating that the Queen’s Administration will demonstrate a commitment to a pedagogy that will make Queen’s a welcoming campus for all students.

Gary Kibbins

Department Head

Film & Media