Op-ed: Mending a Divisive University

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the views of the author, not of the Her Campus uOttawa team.

The events that have transpired at the University of Ottawa over the last couple weeks have been, to say the least, astounding. First, the SFUO decides to hold an anti-racism talk by splitting the “racialized” and “non-racialized” people into two separate groups, essentially segregating people in order to talk about racism. And then, only a few days later, we find out about the appalling facebook conversation between five student leaders on sexually assaulting the SFUO President Anne-Marie Roy. And finally, the next day, we hear of the alleged sexual assault of the GeeGee’s men’s hockey team. I guess they do say bad things always come by three, so hopefully we are done with what has been one heck of a rollercoaster week.  

These events have created quite the controversy and debate. Many words have been thrown around haphazardly without thought behind them. I for one am tired of this nonsense. What has once been a university I was proud in has turned into a campus of divisiveness and disunity.

Now let me be clear. I am not at all condoning the actions and words of the five men towards Anne-Marie. What they said is disgusting and utterly wrong. It sickens me to know that men still think it is fine to talk to women in that way. And now to find out that some members of the uOttawa men’s hockey team allegedly sexually assaulted a woman from Thunder Bay? Gross. Sickening. Stomach Churning. However, after the conversation of the student leaders was released, the backlash that ensued was not only solely emotion based, but was also completely uncalled for. Pat Marquis received death threats. Legitimate death threats. In no case is it ever okay to wish death upon someone, no matter what he or she may have said about someone else. Not only is this detrimental to their mental health, but it just shows the true repulsive nature of human beings.

The same sort of backlash ensued upon the creation of the anti-racism event In My Skin. Students did not debate the issue at hand; rather, they pointed fingers, blindly placed blame, called for the resignation of student leaders, and said some pretty explicit things about the SFUO. Again, I do not condone this event. While racism is a very real thing, separating people based on colour is no way to deal with it. However, I do not condone the reaction to the event either.

What I have noticed after this rollercoaster of a week is how divided this university truly is. As students, we are supposed to be able to debate around issues and topics. We are supposed to be past our days of pointing fingers and calling people names. However, what has become apparent this past week is that these assumptions are far from being true. There now exists two distinct student groups pitted against each other. These two groups are not arguing against each other on the basis of a difference of opinion, but rather on the basis of personal hatred.

Two weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to have lunch with the leader of the Green Party, Elizabeth May. I asked her a question regarding voter apathy. Why do people not care? She responded by saying that people are tired of the negativity in politics. Well, this is exactly the case at uOttawa. Why did only 11.4% of the student population vote in the SFUO elections last month? Because student politics is poisonous. When people are pitted against each other, calling names and placing blame blindly, students get turned off. This university has become atrociously divisive, and I for one am sick of it. We need to take POLITICS out of STUDENT POLITICS. We need to refocus ourselves on helping uOttawa students, rather than hurting them.