Opinion: De-Platforming Dangerous Voices on University Campus

It’s been a week and I am still in shock. I am in shock that in 2018, we are still discussing the issue of racism.

I am not usually one to participate in protests and rallies, mainly because they give me anxiety. I was still incredibly anxious with every step I took closer to the Wilfrid Laurier University Quad that evening, but I did my best to ignore it. Where there are counter-protesters, there are those perpetuating the issue being protested against.

I was worried that my partner, a white man, and I, a Black woman, would stick out like a sore thumb and become the target of some sort of violence. It was the first time since being tied to Laurier in any way, shape, or form, that I actually felt unsafe.

As of last Tuesday, I didn’t have a clue who Faith Goldy was. Turns out, she has been tied to alt-right or white nationalist ideologies. As a part of a speaker series held by a group called the Laurier Society for Open Inquiry, Goldy was invited to speak on campus.

I was at work and my partner sent me a link to an article in the Huffington Post. In summary, it basically suggested that de-platforming is the best way to kill a dangerous idea. In this case, the dangerous idea is the ideology of white supremacy.

To be clear, this ideology is not a “white people versus everyone else” sort of idea. It is a far-right belief that none other than the caucasian race should inhabit the earth. My stomach dropped as I sat at my desk, not only because of what was to be spoken about, but where. I could not believe that the administration at my beloved alma mater had failed to recognize the problems that would arise from allowing such an individual to have a platform on campus, especially with the large BIPOC and LGBTQ+ populations and advocacy groups that coexist there.

Sure, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, which is the centre of the free-speech debate,  but I would say that deeming white supremacy to be an opinion that needs to be given a platform is far-fetched. Standing up against it is a fight that we are all responsible to take part in, no matter our race, class, age, or sexual orientation.

It was beautiful to see such a diverse group of people taking a stance against Laurier administration and speaking up against what was happening on my former campus. While Goldy and her followers were inside, the rest of us were rallying outside for hours in the cold. My partner and I, although mindful of the potential danger that could happen, were more concerned about the message we would send if we were to do absolutely nothing and stay home. Not only does this ideology negate my existence as a human being, but it negates our existence as two people whom are romantically involved.

Although now, just as an alum of Wilfrid Laurier University, the biggest realization that I had that day was about who university administration gives a platform to. It also hurt to realize that although about 100 of us gathered outside, 175+ gathered inside to hear Faith Goldy (even more had to be turned away).

When the talk was cancelled, they moved to the war memorial across from campus, which was particularly insensitive as many counter-protesters held up signs of mass military graves with the caption, “They Cannot Have Died For Nothing.”

I hope that we, as a school community and larger community, can view this as a way to learn and grow. We all deserve to be treated equitably and we all deserve to be here.

As American writer and poet Max Ehrmann once said, “You are a child of the universe. No less than the trees and the stars.”

The voices we choose to amplify on our campus is something everyone should be concerned about and thus, we must work together to correct it.