Carleton reverses course

Cystic fibrosis benefit back on; students aim to boot student gvt after “white people” controversy


In the face of national outrage, Carleton University Students’ Association says it will reverse its decision to cancel Shinerama, the school’s popular fundraiser for cystic fibrosis after it passed a motion saying the fatal disease is not “inclusive” enough.

The original motion, which passed 17 to 2 at the association’s Nov. 24 meeting, read: “Whereas Cystic fibrosis has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men…Be it resolved that: CUSA discontinue its support of this campaign.”

Read: Carleton cancels Shinerama; says disease only affects “white people”

Jeff Rybak on Why Dumb Things Happen Around Smart Students

In an interview with Maclean’s OnCampus, Smyth distanced the council from the controversial sentence on race and gender. Because it was a “Whereas” clause, she says they had no power to modify the sentence.

“It’s how our council has always operated. Even if we had wanted to change it we couldn’t have,” she says.

After the lightning-fast mobilization of Carleton’s student population, Smyth says the council will be holding an emergency council meeting to reverse their decision Dec. 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the school’s Porter Hall.

Immediately after the disputed vote, thousands of Carleton students flocked online in an effort to both organize and support grassroots rallies and fundraisers in support of the popular event.

“There will definitely be some resignations over this,” says graduate student Ashley Darch, who went to the school as an undergrad and is following, and participating in, the online controversy.

“Some people are saying we need a rally, some are saying that we need to make a very bold statement, and there is even an element that wants to impeach the CUSA executive.”

Darch says students are dismayed at how the media firestorm surrounding the issue has hurt the reputation of the university. A fundraising pub night is being held in Ottawa for tonight, and a “mini-Shinerama” rally is set to be held at the university tomorrow.

There have also been specific calls to impeach Donnie Northrup, the councilor who brought forward the motion in the first place. In an online statement, he says he still stands by the motion and CUSA’s decision to pass it.

“I genuinely believe the best way to do this is to rotate through charities,” he writes. “This is a chance to do something new and exciting; I don’t get the hype.”

Shinerama fundraising takes place during orientation week and has been happening at Carleton University for nearly 25 years. As a result, the school has raised almost $1 million for the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

The website of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation says the disease is most common in Caucasians but can affect all races. According to Wikipedia, “approximately 1 in 25 people of European descent and 1 in 22 people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent is a carrier of a cystic fibrosis mutation. Although CF is less common in these groups, approximately 1 in 46 Hispanics, 1 in 65 Africans and 1 in 90 Asians carry at least one abnormal CFTR gene.”

Wikipedia also notes that, “cystic fibrosis is diagnosed in males and females equally. For unclear reasons, males tend to have a longer life expectancy than females.” It is currently the most common fatal genetic disease affecting young Canadians, with an estimated 3,500 people living with the condition.

Lauren Guitar, a lead organizer of tomorrow’s rally in support of Shinerama, says she has someone in her life who has cystic fibrosis and planned to hold tomorrow’s rally regardless of how many people showed up.

“But when I woke up this morning, I had a dozen messages on my phone and multiple offers from people in the community who wanted to donate,” she says.

“I am a little angry with CUSA for how they worded their decision, but in a few hours we’ve managed to ignite the whole campus in support of this cause.”

Shinerama began in 1964 as a shoe-shining campaign and is now Canada’s largest post-secondary fundraiser. High-energy events are held at nearly 60 university and college campuses, where more than 35,000 student volunteers shine shoes, wash cars, run raffles and barbeques, and sing songs on street corners.


Carleton reverses course

  1. Clearly, the original rationale of the motion — i.e., the “whereas” preamble — is incorrect and wrongheaded. It is also the non-endorsed opinion of ONE person.

    But that’s a separate issue from the actual motion (“be it resolved that…”), and the association’s support for the motion. Support for the motion may have been for reasons different from what was stated in the preamble. Moreover, approval of the motion does not imply endorsement of the preamble.

    Why would one conflate these issues? The only reasons I can imagine are that one is either (a) ignorant/uninformed or (b) politically motivated against certain student leaders.

  2. Unlike Jonathan Kay, I’ll give the CUSA council the benefit of a doubt. I’m glad they are re-visiting this decision.

  3. Sure. But as you note, Dan, the CUSA decision-makers were mistaken about procedure. So, under the formal rules, endorsement is implied. But that was clearly not the intention — as the President of CUSA has articulated repeatedly.

  4. @Rick,

    Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia

  5. I cannot believe that in a council of twenty members not a single member understood the basics of a motion?

    When you vote for a motion, you vote for the motion. The preamble sets the stage for the motion and provides context. Anyone who thinks you can vote for a motion and ignore the preamble shouldn’t be chairing a meeting or, frankly, voting on motions. If you don’t take the job seriously enough to learn how it works you should resign.

  6. @Rick, who wrote: “Why would one conflate these issues? The only reasons I can imagine are that one is either (a) ignorant/uninformed or (b) politically motivated against certain student leaders.”

    Are you serious?

    Do you think that if the Harper government had passed a motion reading:

    “Whereas sexual discrimination has been recently revealed to be a total fabrication by radical feminists and the Communist Politburo, be it resolved that: the Government discontinue support of the Court Challenges Program in favor of REAL Women,” then said “we just want to rotate support from group to group,” people would have separated out the ‘whereas’ from the ‘resolved’?

    This sort of tortured reasoning may work in the rarefied air of debate societies and student politics, but if I say to my wife “Women are stupid. By the way, I’m driving today, not you…” the whereases and resolveds don’t enter into it — I’m getting whopped.

    CUSA made a huge error in judgement. They now have to do the ritual humiliating climbdown, and if they improve their judgement, they will have a RECORD-setting Shinerama year next year. Hopefully they’ll learn from this experience.

    Ignorant, uninformed politically motivated Bob.

  7. This is why smart students are and do dumb things and have no connection to the real world or issues.

    I would love to see the gender and racial make up on the council, that would probably explain many things.

    Reverse racism or really just racism towards man and white man in particular is here and more common then before.

    This example illustrates this issue clearly.

    I can not believe 20 students would vote and come to that conclusion. Shame on them and their families to raise them this way.

  8. Rick, the fact that the CUSA president did not understand the correct procedure for handling this is troubling enough. If she was acting as chair of the meeting, it is her business to understand what the rules are and how they should be followed. Otherwise she has no business being chair. The CUSA constitution states that unless otherwise amended, the CUSA meetings follow Roberts Rules of Order. By passing the motion, the CUSA endorsed both the motion and the whereas clause–that is how the rule works. Otherwise, what is the point of the whereas clause?

    That some of the members may have chosen to support the motion for different reasons is irrelavent: under normal circumstances, the students don’t find out about the details of who felt what about the motion; the whereas clause is the board’s public statement of reason behind the decision.

  9. Tomasz: “I would love to see the gender and racial make up on the council, that would probably explain many things.”

    For gender… A quick look at the CUSA website would tell you there are 19 men (61%) and 12 women (39%) on their council. The actual gender ratio in university student populations is usually near 60% women.

  10. This is just another example of racism. Too bad the general public would’nt recognise that white males are discriminated against every time a Canadian Government application for work/school is filled out. Our gov’t created “employment equity”, this works on a basis of race/ethnicity/sex/etc, not who is more qualified for the job. Everyone in Canada should be treated EQUALLY! Why should race/ethnicity/sex even matter? I can understand people with disabilities given more options, but thats where the line should be drawn. People need to speak out against “employment UNequity”

  11. Pingback: Carleton reinstates Shinerama, councillor resigns : Macleans OnCampus

Sign in to comment.