Dalhousie University drops complaint against student for criticizing ‘white fragility’
Dalhousie University’s vice-provost of student affairs has withdrawn the complaint against a student who was set to face the school’s Senate discipline committee for criticizing “white fragility” in an online post.
In a statement on the university’s website on Wednesday, Arig al-Shaibah, says she has weighed the events of the last few weeks.
She says she is withdrawing the complaint because, while the code of conduct supports freedom of speech and aims to prevent demeaning and intimidating behaviour, the code “as written, may not place these two core institutional values in sufficient and proper context.”
Masuma Khan, a member of the student council executive, was under investigation for her Facebook post on Dalhousie Student Union’s decision not to endorse Canada 150 celebrations in support of Indigenous Peoples.
The fourth-year international development studies student called the celebrations an ongoing “act of colonialism” and used a hashtag that referred to “white fragility.”
“Be proud of this country? For what, over 400 years of genocide?” she said in the post, which she subsequently took down.
Another student alleged the post discriminated against white people.
Al-Shaibah says that the situation with Khan has caused the university to examine how they can resolve problems like this outside of the Senate disciplinary process.
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Al-Shaibah also writes that public conversation, especially on social media, has become polarized and hateful, which undermines “the very values of respect, inclusion and sense of safety we sought for our community at the outset.”
She says her decision has the endorsement of the Senate, and “the knowledge” of the complainant and witnesses.
But Khan tells Global News she was only sent an email informing her of the decision three minutes before al-Shaibah’s memo was posted on the university’s website.
“They haven’t reached out to me still,” Khan said.
“There is no new information that is given so I don’t understand why they are pulling (the complaint) now, when they’ve had this information since July.”
With a file from Jennifer Grudic
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