[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n Tuesday November 24, a group called the SFU White Student Union surfaced on Facebook, bringing the issue of white privilege and ignorance to the forefront of discussion on campus. Unsurprising in the least, student responses to the page have been heated and volatile since the page’s activation, with many immediately calling for its removal.
While the cries for the group’s banishment are justified, a majority of students are squandering an opportunity to open the gates of meaningful discussion on the grounds that they’d rather throw a fit on social media than talk productively with the other party.
Am I fan of a white student union? Not in the least. But, others tend to think otherwise, and the very least we could do is hear what they have to say about it. Whether they’re right or wrong is honestly unsubstantial — what is important is that we have the discussion in the first place. Respectfully listening to each party’s thoughts on the matter and engaging in worthwhile discussion could lead to both parties considering alternative perspectives in a critical manner.
Instead, however, we have grown adults throwing tantrums on message boards. This is frankly as embarrassing as it is disheartening, given our status as university students. As the leaders of tomorrow, we should be held to a higher standard of practice. We should facilitate meaningful debate as opposed to an abrasive assault on the part of students with ignorant tendencies. After all, we came to university to learn and to become better people, not to tar and feather those in need of a reality check.
Sarcastic online comments are comparable to a one-page cheat-sheet in a first year Earth Science course.
The fact of the matter is that people like being called racist just as much as they like being called stupid. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone why someone would be less inclined to gravitate towards discussion when they’ve just been compared to Hitler.
At the end of the day, a cheeky meme or angry criticism on a message board is about as unproductive as the creation of a white student union. Sarcastic comments on social media are comparable to a one-page cheat sheet in a first-year Earth Science course. If you think it’s going to be helpful, you’re sadly, sadly mistaken.
Part of the problem lies in how students present their arguments towards those in favour of something like such a union. Too often, educated individuals choose to impart knowledgeable insights to those with deficit with the tactful exuberance of Shylock collecting debts with a Louisville slugger. If people actually took the time to talk candidly and, dare I say, with some compassion, we might see some worthwhile results for a change.
Now, it’s worth taking into account that, recently, CBC and other news outlets report the rise of similar “White Student Union” Facebook pages in response to recent posts made by white supremacists on the Internet. This still doesn’t make it any less of an important topic to discuss. As we speak, White Student Union Facebook groups are sprouting up across the US as well as in Canada. This is reason alone to push away from our keyboards and begin to do something a touch more productive than posting a meme of Gene Wilder smirking.