C/O Esra Rakab

The QTCC provides an online space for racialized 2SLGBTQ+ students to gather and build community

McMaster University’s Queer and Trans Colour Club is a place for racialized 2SLGBTQIA+ students to connect and thrive both academically and socially at McMaster. Even while clubs remained online for the fall semester of 2021, the QTCC found avenues for students to connect. Their online workshops and their educational Instagram posts shared tips for mindfulness and how to deal with living at home during online school and the holidays. 

In the fall, the QTCC held a variety of online events to encourage students to connect with one another, including a midterm destress session and their most recent workshop, A Very Queer Study Session, in which students studied together over Zoom using the Pomodoro method. The workshop also provided space to discuss mindfulness techniques and how to manage stress at home during the holidays as a 2SLGBTQIA+ student.  

The workshop also provided space to discuss mindfulness techniques and how to manage stress at home during the holidays as a 2SLGBTQIA+ student. 

The President of QTCC, Emma Zhang, who helped run the workshop, shared her experience at the study session and some of the tips they gave for the holiday season. 

“We leave a reminder: it’s important for us to support each other in finding ways to cope with this. [T]hen we open the floor to everyone to see what tips they could have in terms of what worked for them and then we will go with what tips we have. For example, if you can, connect to the people who could affirm your identity and community. It can be online through game nights or meeting up in person,” said Zhang. 

For example, if you can, connect to the people who could affirm your identity and community. It can be online through game nights or meeting up in person.

Emma Zhang, QTCC President

The QTCC is continuing their events in the new year with educational information for aromantic spectrum awareness week, a coffee house they host annually at the end of February. Last year, the event was hosted online.  

“Last year, we had, of course, spoken word. Also, we had people who shared their screen to show their paintings and I think some were more abstract and some were personal. Also, some people performed songs and dances that were important to them,” said Zhang. 

In the month of February, the QTCC is also busy promoting educational information on their social media about Black History Month in collaboration with the Black Students’ Association.  

Zhang spoke about how the QTCC hopes to provide tips on how to connect with others platonically on Valentine’s Day. 

“Specifically for our Valentine's Day post, we're hoping to also provide some resources where people can connect platonically and we hope to address the topic of what it means to have a clear platonic relationship because as you know, queer relationships and timelines don't really look identical to a cishet timeline,” explained Zhang. 

Through every online workshop and post, QTCC is fostering a community for racialized 2LGBTQIA+ students, allowing them to still feel connected to their peers even if most students are stuck at home. 

“We leave the floor and the freedom to our attendees to choose what they want to do to build the community that they want to see and I think that that is pretty powerful. And generally having a sense of solidarity of seeing people like them on the screen with them doing similar things, that's pretty helpful. I think personally, I've benefited from that,” said Zhang.  

McMaster students are gathering virtually for the university's first climate strike with the call for divestment as its primary goal

C/O Ronan Furuta

As more people have come to recognize the threat of climate change, climate advocacy movements have grown around the world. At McMaster University, there are many student organizations that aim to protect the environment, such as Zero Waste McMaster, Mac Climate Advocates, McMaster Divest and others.

On Friday, March 19, students will gather on Zoom for McMaster University’s first virtual climate strike. According to Grace Kuang, a representative from the McMaster Climate Strike Team, the strike is aligned with Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future movement and is being organized by representatives from 13 different environmental activist groups on campus. Its primary goal is divestment from fossil fuels. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by MacDivest (@mcmasterdivest)

As Mymoon Bhuiyan, a representative from McMaster Divest, explained, students are advocating for divestment for a variety of reasons.

 “It's important for environmental reasons, but not only that. There are also humanitarian reasons; fossil fuel companies are notoriously bad in terms of human [rights]. There are also financial reasons; McMaster is going to lose money if they continue to stay invested in these companies,” said Bhuiyan.

 “It's important for environmental reasons, but not only that. There are also humanitarian reasons; fossil fuel companies are notoriously bad in terms of human [rights]. There are also financial reasons; McMaster is going to lose money if they continue to stay invested in these companies,”

Mymoon Bhuiyan

According to Adeola Egbeyemi, a representative from McMaster Divest, the conversation about divestment between the McMaster administration and climate activist groups on campus has been ongoing for years. 

“We are not the first ones on the divestment scene. This has been a longstanding movement since 2015,” said Egbeyemi.

Over the course of this semester, the conversation has progressed significantly. On Feb. 24 the McMaster Climate Strike Team sent a letter to President David Farrar, calling for divestment. In an email to the Silhouette, the McMaster Climate Strike Team explained that they expected McMaster to address this call for divestment at the Investments and Infrastructure Town Hall the following day.

Members of the McMaster Climate Strike Team expressed that the town hall did not provide the opportunities for engagement that they had expected. According to Kuang, the question and answer period was filtered, giving moderators the ability to choose questions without participants knowing what other questions had been asked. Further, there were no opportunities for students to show their video or unmute themselves.

“I think we came away feeling really silenced and really disappointed,” explained Kuang.

“I think we came away feeling really silenced and really disappointed,”

Grace Kuang

“It's not clear what the university's intention was, but it doesn't really matter what the university’s intention was. Universities are places of open discussion and free thought, so there should have been a method for students to voice their thoughts,” said Bhuiyan.

Farrar said that the intention of the town hall was not to silence student voices.

“I think that the people who organized it were honestly trying to have a dialogue and that this technology doesn't allow the kind of dialogue that needed to happen,” said Farrar.

Following the event, Farrar asked the Board of Governors to put a strategy in place for divestment.

“I think we need to take the added step of divesting from fossil fuel companies and I've asked the board to look into it,” emphasized Farar.

“I think we need to take the added step of divesting from fossil fuel companies and I've asked the board to look into it,”

David Farrar

The McMaster Climate Strike Team expressed that they were aware and appreciate the university’s recent commitment to divestment, but that they were hoping to push the university towards releasing a more concrete plan.

“There were no steps, there were no timelines and there was nothing concrete that they wanted to move forward with; it's just talk,” said Egbeyemi.

“There were no steps, there were no timelines and there was nothing concrete that they wanted to move forward with; it's just talk,”

Adeola Egbeyemi

“We need to convince the rest of the board of governors to be on our side, so there's definitely still work to do and that's what the strike is hoping to accomplish,” added Kuang, emphasizing the importance of the upcoming climate strike in the divestment movement at McMaster.

Egbeyemi highlighted the accessibility of the strike.

“You don't have to be 100 per cent vegan and go thrifting every weekend. Calling for institutional change is something that we can all do and it is an important part of improving society, in addition to individual change,” said Egbeyemi.

“You don't have to be 100 per cent vegan and go thrifting every weekend. Calling for institutional change is something that we can all do and it is an important part of improving society, in addition to individual change,”

ADEOLA EGBEYEMI

“I am striking to show the strength we have when we stand together. We stand in support of McMaster divesting from fossil fuels; we stand in solidarity with those experiencing the devastating effects of climate change; and we stand as a symbol of unity and strength,” said Gabriel Lonuzzo, a representative from the McMaster Climate Strike Team, in an email to the Silhouette.

By Wei Wu, Contributor

On Oct. 30, pro-life demonstrators stood by L.R. Wilson Hall carrying signs with images of aborted fetuses. It is not clear whether the demonstrators were students at McMaster, or whether they had connections to any existing clubs.

According to Michael Coutu, a student at McMaster, the demonstrators exposed passersby to their signs and distributed pamphlets, which contained graphic images of aborted fetuses. Coutu is concerned about whether the demonstrators received clearance to be on campus. 

“Although they were not particularly loud or disruptive, I still found the images and rhetoric being spread very concerning and ill-advised,” said Coutu. 

Students have raised their concerns online regarding the contrast between the Oct. 30 situation to the May 11 protest during May at Mac, in which student activists were ticketed for trespassing during a peaceful protest that criticized McMaster regarding a range of issues. One of the issues was sexual abuse within student organizations such as the Maroons. 

Initially, the May at Mac demonstrators did not provide identification when asked to do so by security and were asked to leave. However, some of these individuals returned and continued their demonstration later on, which resulted in them being ticketed for trespassing.

Mac Daily News released an update after May 11, stating that university security had been working with limited information at the time. According to this update, security had approached the May at Mac protestors because of complaints from community members about the protestors’ pamphlets, which included “unsubstantiated allegations” made against a named McMaster student. Still, the update referred to the method of ticketing as “regrettable and unfortunate”. The university stated they would take steps to rescind tickets and clear them from the students’ records. 

The juxtaposition between how the university approached the protests of May 11 and Oct. 30 — initially issuing trespassing tickets and charges for one group but not the other — raises questions regarding the limits of protesting on campus and the types of images that are allowed to be publicized on campus. 

In a statement on freedom of expression, McMaster University clearly states that it supports the freedom of expression of all its members, as well as freedom of association and peaceful assembly for all of its members. The university affirms that members of the McMaster community have the right to exchange ideas, challenge received wisdom, engage in respectful debate, discuss controversial issues and engage in peaceful protest. 

 So long as students do not infringe on the rights and freedoms of others, students are free to host and participate in demonstrations at McMaster. Members of the McMaster community are not required to obtain permission from the university administration in order to protest or demonstrate on campus.

 Although the demonstration on Oct. 30 touched upon a highly sensitive topic that some individuals may have found deeply disturbing, university policy protects the right to share their beliefs and engage in public discourse at McMaster.

 “Other images, even though we might not agree with them, we might not find them agreeable, would be allowed and permitted. That’s part of the freedoms of expression the university campus has,” said Gord Arbeau, McMaster’s Director of Communications, adding that he did not know about the pro-life demonstration.

McMaster maintains that it supports freedom of expression and peaceful protests on campus.

 

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