McMaster GSA Declares its Support for Black Lives Matter and its Anti-Oppression Policy
Following the horrific murder of George Floyd, on May 25, 2020, the McMaster University Graduate Student Association (GSA) decided to abolish its neutrality policy, which has been effective since 2005 and prevented the GSA from aligning itself with any political movements, including Black Lives Matter (BLM). As renown anti-apartheid activist Desmond Tutu noted “[i]f you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” We have chosen to be on the right side of history by standing with those made most marginalized in our community, rather than remaining “neutral,” starting with the Black community.
We are proud to announce that, after months of internal conversations, we passed a comprehensive anti-oppression policy, on November 12, 2020, in place of the neutrality policy, mandating the GSA to work towards social justice, in solidarity with other progressive organizations. Based on this policy, the GSA’s Student Issues Action (SIA) Committee will also conduct annual internal surveys to track graduate student experiences with oppression, assess the efficiency of existing anti-oppressive actions, identify deficiencies, and suggest remedies, and will lead audits every four years, coinciding with the development of the Strategic Plan.
In support of BLM, we have also endorsed the preliminary 5-point plan against anti-Blackness, which was drafted by members of the McMaster community. It calls on McMaster University to openly endorse the BLM movement, denounce all forms of white supremacy, including when it is disguised as free speech, financially support BIPOC students, expand access to anti-racist pedagogical training for all student teaching assistants and faculty, fire the current Director of Parking and Security Services, Glenn De Caire, due to his documented racism, and sever ties with police. Encouraged by the letter McMaster University issued on June 1, condemning anti-Blackness, we ask the University to follow in our footsteps and not simply engage in anti-racist discourse, but rather, act on it, heeding the demands of oppressed communities and imagining and implementing a more just world.