UofOWatch has learned that this letter (below) was duly sent (in cc) for publication to the student paper The Fulcrum on March 26, 2011, and was simply ignored. The Fulcrum did not acknowledge or contact its author, despite the paper's statutory commitment to publish all student letters. This, for a paper that has been consistently enthusiastic to criticize the SFUO's Left politics.
It appears that at the University of Ottawa racism runs deep and crosses all race, political, age, and class boundaries...? (See all posts about racism at U of O HERE.)
UofOWatch has learned that the letter was re-sent today addressed to the present SFUO president Amalia Savva.
To Tyler Steeves,
I am writing to you as the Chair of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa's Black History Month sub-committee in your capacity as President of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO).
It is with sincere regret and utter frustration that I find myself writing this letter. As a committee, we experienced a lot of resistance from the executive of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa. We also felt as if we were being held hostage and that we had to dance to a tune in order to be heard and taken seriously.
As a representative of the committee, I first approached the SFUO in July with the plan to put certain things in motion. I had a meeting with an executive member and the response from the meeting was an email advising me that the SFUO would be "selecting members" for the 2010-2011 Black History Month Committee. This response perplexed some students who were interested in being members because we did not understand them criteria that was to be used. We also questioned the SFUO's qualifications in determining who was suitable to be on this committee. What made this response even more curious for us was the fact that for centuries marginalized groups have always been told who has the legitimacy to speak on their behalf by the dominant group.
According to the SFUO Constitution, "the SFUO Executive shall only act as a liaison between the Black History Month Committee members for financial and logistical matters". There were a few embarrassing moments that were avoidable had the SFUO executive followed their mandate as stated in the Constitution vis à vis the Black History Committee. The most embarrassing and regrettable one was suffered by our keynote speaker Dr. George Dei of Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), as he tried to check out of his hotel room.
It was also embarrassing to have to hold our event at the Carlton University Campus because of the delay in mobilizing the committee. This delay was due to SFUO's inaction in terms of setting up the committee and lack of facilitation in accessing all the resources required by the committee. The committee was also puzzled by the lack of attendance by any of the SFUO executive members.
We all have to acknowledge that the committee is seen by outsiders as representing the University of Ottawa's student body. As such any failure by the committee is seen as a failure by the whole student body. We have to work together to promote an inclusive and respectful study body at our university. The committee would like to set up a meeting with the SFUO executive to revisit the issue and come up with a more respectful working relationship.
I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
Chair, Student Federation of the University of Ottawa's Black History Month sub-committee
cc: Black history month committee members, SFUO executives, the fulcrum, and black caucus members