Pertaining to compiling the articulated contextualization and intentional facilitation

The presidents (two, apparently) of the Laurier Student Union have issued A Statement. It is exactly what you’d expect – loaded with the dreariest bureaucratic jargon imaginable. It’s as if they’re afraid even to talk in a human way, let alone saying anything that might trouble The Orthodoxy.

To undergraduate and graduate students of Wilfrid Laurier University,

Laurier has been the center of a contentious debate pertaining to academic freedom and freedom of expression.

See what I mean? “Pertaining to” ffs – what’s wrong with “about” or “on”?

Now that the University has publicized the composition of the Task Force on Freedom of Expression, the student body has an opportunity to directly contribute to this important discussion. As Presidents of your Union and Association, and student representatives on the task force, we have a duty to listen to our membership and ensure your perspectives are heard.

Whose perspectives? Which perspectives? All of them? Something tells me they don’t actually mean all of them.

We want to acknowledge that the events of last week, and the subsequent discourse associated with this topic, has caused harm for some Laurier students. The dominant narrative surrounding this story has too often discounted the lived experiences of transgender and non-binary students, and as a result, questioned their very existence.

Emphasis mine. No. Questioning people’s claims about themselves is not denying their existence. That dishonest bit of rhetoric ought to be retired.

Normally, all things being equal, of course we take people’s claims about themselves at face value, and of course it’s rude not to. But sometimes things turn out not to be equal and then we do ask questions; that’s just how these things work. We follow the social rules in general, but there may be exceptions. If people make eccentric claims about themselves, there may be reasons to question those claims. That’s not denying the existence of the person making the claim.

The principles of academic dialogue and freedom of expression are integral components of university learning. While debate is a productive tool of learning, it requires proper contextualization and intentional facilitation by instructors and teaching assistants. In this environment students learn to think critically, understand the nuance of complicated topics, and listen to the perspectives of their classmates. Educational engagement with challenging material should not willfully incite hatred or violence.

What are we supposed to think after reading that paragraph? That Lindsay Shepherd willfully incited hatred or violence or both.

Over the coming weeks and going into next semester, our goal is to facilitate sessions for students to ensure all voices are heard. We will then compile the feedback and articulate it to the committee to assist in the process of achieving their mandate.

Well that’s reassuring.

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