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Members of black student groups open dialogue about on-campus racism

With a free viewing and discussion of the film Dear White People on campus, student leaders are reaching out, to anyone who’s faced anti-black discrimination while at school.

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) and Black Student Leaders Association (BSLA), in collaboration with student group BlakCollectiv, will screen the independent film on Feb. 12 as part of the SFUO’s Black History Month event series. Then, they’ll guide a discussion about the experiences of the black students attending college in the movie and similar anti-black discrimination many students face on our campus.

“It’s dealing with a lot of issues that we as black students face on a daily basis, and the fact that it was even created was a testament to the realities of it,” BSLA president Ellen Inglish said of the film in a statement to the Fulcrum.

Sakinna Gairey, a public relations student and member of BlakCollectiv, said the group hopes the event can guide students to find parallels between what goes on in the movie’s theme of attending a predominantly white school and what goes on at the U of O.

The discussion will include both critiques of the movie and personal experiences that students have had with discrimination, both on and off campus.

Gairey said the event will be beneficial for all students, no matter their race.

“I think that it’s a discussion that needs to be had on campus,” she said. “A lot of people don’t notice what black students go through on the daily basis at university and I think that by showing Dear White People at the UCU auditorium, we’re hoping that a lot of people will come out and be part of the dialogue.”

Inglish said black students will be introduced to the BSLA and BlakCollectiv, which they can join to help improve their overall student experience.

On-campus racism has been top-of-mind for many U of O students lately.

The event takes place the same week students will be voting on a referendum to create a Racialized Student Centre as a new service run by the SFUO.

“There’s a Women’s Resource Centre, an Access Centre, an LGBTQ centre. There are lots of different marginalized groups on campus and they need attention, and they need somewhere safe they can go to bring their complaints and their stories of harassment to people that they know will listen to them,” said Gairey, voicing her support for the proposed service.

The free event will be held on Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. in Alumni Auditorium in the UCU.



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