16 September 2020 – Our campuses will never be the same because of Black Lives Matter

On 8 September 2020, my colleague Professor Frances Widdowson of Mount Royal University (MRU) in Calgary, Alberta was quoted by the Western Standard as saying that the Black Lives Matter movement has “destroyed MRU” and that she “doesn’t recognize the institution anymore.” For years, Professor Widdowson has been an unwavering supporter of academic freedom, especially when it is unpopular, but I have no inkling whether Black Lives Matter has, in fact, destroyed Mount Royal University, either in a literal, figurative, or hyperbolic sense. But I do know that Black Lives Matter has indelibly changed many universities across Turtle Island (North America) and I believe has done so unequivocally for the better. Because of Black Lives Matter, Idle No More, and the Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women movements, on 19 June 2020, my own faculty association, the Carleton University Academic Staff Association, called for politicians to “defund the police and reallocate resources to alternative forms of public safety that prioritize mental health, poverty reduction, and other forms of social infrastructure”. Our campuses and our society will never be the same because of these important social movements. Therefore, I agree with Frances Widdowson that I do not “recognize the institutions anymore” because academic institutions that have been bastions of racisms and sexism that have ignored both racialized and sexualized violence have finally – albeit all too slowly – started to awake from their milquetoast slumber. Other than about academic freedom, this may be the first time I have agreed with Professor Widdowson, even if we arrived at the same conclusion from radically different perspectives.

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