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A decision to be applauded

A decision to be applauded

Letter to the Editor

As an alumna, one of five female graduates of Queen’s in our family dating from 1908 to 2004, and one whose husband, George Vosper, is a member of Sc’53, I’m pleased that the Board of Trustees has named the Policy Studies building in honour of Robert Sutherland, BA1852, the University’s first black graduate.

My family lived within a few blocks of the campus for 49 years. For many of those years, international students roomed with us. Our children grew up with these student friends from India, Thailand, Nigeria, the Bahamas, Granada, and Germany. We held in our home a wedding reception for a bride and groom from the West Indies. A multi-racial couple and their baby spent their first Christmas with us. This all happened in the 1950s and early 1960s. International House was established. There did not seem to be the discrimination that’s so problematic today. On the contrary, a student enquiring about a room in our house would frequently identify himself as “coloured”, and would later apologize for having done so.

We are all truly grateful for the gifts of self so freely given by them all and for the lasting friendships we enjoy. Our story is testimony to the lack of “whiteness” or racial discrimination at Queen’s 50 years ago. I sincerely hope that if it truly exists today it will be eradicated. The Board of Trustees’ decision to honour Robert Sutherland is certainly to be applauded.

Velma (Johnston) Vosper, NSc’50
Kingston, ON

For more on the decision to rename the Policy Studies Building in honour of Robert Sutherland, please see "A timely hounour for an early benefactor"

[Queen's Alumni Review 2009-2 cover]