Abandoning Equity Policy: (Re)membering the Queen's University 1991 Principal's Advisory Committee Report on Race Relations
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“The most dangerous form of ‘white supremacy’ is not the obvious and extreme fascistic posturing of small neo-nazi groups, but rather the taken for granted routine privileging of white interests that goes unremarked in the political mainstream” (Gilbourn, 2005, p.485). This genealogical (Foucault, 1979; 1990) research study interrogates the political nature of universities and their role in the maintenance of racial oppression. Using Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada as a case study, it analyzes and explores the racist historical underpinnings of the institution and the response of the university to incidents of racial discrimination in the early 1990’s— particularly the creation of the 1989 Principals Advisory Committee (PAC) on Race Relations. This work documents and examines the institutional, political, and ideological obstacles in implementing this comprehensive, university-wide anti-racism policy. This research reveals and traces the discourses of racism at Queen’s University. It analyzes how the histories, ideologies, and institutional policy responses toward racism have produced and perpetuated processes that function to control and oppress racialized minorities. The study begins with a chronological analysis of racism at the university and identifies and examines the discursive strategies and techniques that are employed to sustain racist practices. The study concludes with an analysis of qualitative interviews with original members of 1989 Principal’s Advisory Committee on Race Relations who drafted the 1991 Race Relations Report, and captures their reflections on the institutional challenges and obstacles in implementing this monumental anti-racism policy at Queen’s University.