McMaster student activists launch “Whiter World” campaign
Photos C/O "De Caire Off Campus" Facebook page
In Dec. 2018, posters featuring the same font and design as McMaster University’s Brighter World campaign posters but instead reading “Whiter World” began popping up in various locations around campus.
According to the De Caire Off Campus Facebook page, the group behind the campaign is the Revolutionary Student Movement, an anti-capitalist student activist movement that claims to “support the peoples’ struggles against capitalism, imperialism, and colonialism in Canada and internationally.”
One poster reads “Farewell Patrick!” and accuses McMaster president Patrick Deane of promoting white supremacy and far-right groups, alleging that he was a “settler in apartheid South Africa.”
Another poster displays two photos of University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson, calling him ‘anti-trans’ and ‘fascist’ and mentioning the treatment of protesters during his appearance in March 2017 and the ensuing free speech debate. It also highlights the vandalism of McMaster’s pride crosswalks.
The third poster details McMaster director of parking and security service Glenn De Caire’s history of support for carding, alleging that police presence around campus has increased dramatically.
The campaign initially began in Dec. 2015 in response to McMaster’s hiring of De Caire. In spite of the student backlash that the hire ignited and the McMaster Students’ Union Student Representative Assembly’s vote to endorse De Caire’s removal, the university stood by him, and De Caire has remained in his role since.
“The Whiter World posters outline white supremacist activity that the McMaster administration has actively facilitated on campus, as well what we see on the rise in the city,” the De Caire Off Campus group said in a statement to The Silhouette. “The campaign emerged out of the increasingly urgent need to push back against far-right and white supremacist organizing.”
When asked for an interview, Gord Arbeau, the university’s director of communications, responded by condemning the Whiter World posters.
“Our approach when there is graffiti or there are acts of vandalism is to remove the material when it is found. That’s what has happened in the handful of times these leaflets have been discovered,” said Arbeau.
The group behind the Whiter World campaign is particularly concerned about the alleged ineffectiveness of student consultation efforts by the university and the MSU and the university’s free speech guidelines, which they say have not seriously considered the concerns of marginalized communities.
In November, the SRA passed a motion opposing the Ontario government’s free speech policy mandate. MSU president Ikram Farah has been vocal in her opposition of McMaster’s free speech guidelines.
On Nov. 14, Farah, Deane, and McMaster University associate vice president (Equity and Inclusion) Arig al Shaibah hosted an open town hall to consult students and discuss the free speech mandate.
“[Consultation efforts have been] nothing more than manipulation and exploitation, and we refuse to cooperate,” the De Caire Off Campus group said.
The De Caire Off Campus campaign has also condemned the allegedly bolstered police presence in and around McMaster.
Every school in the Hamilton area employs at least one ‘school resource officer,’ a special police officer stationed at that location to ensure security.
“Police presence brings with it, for so many marginalized people, a constant threat of violence,” said the De Caire Off Campus group.
They also accuse Hamilton’s ACTION police teams of targeting racialized and working class residents and creating a hostile environment for marginalized students.
It is unclear whether the De Caire Off Campus group has any further plans to protest the university or consult with the student union or university administration.