Queen’s University students have been documenting alleged acts of racism and discrimination at the university’s Smith School of Business on a new Instagram account.
Creator Kelly Wailing Zou says she decided to create the account after experiences of her own.
“All the times I’ve been told at Queen’s University that I’ve gotten a position or I’m in a position because I’m a woman of colour, and all the times that I’ve gotten scholarships, and all my achievements have been demeaned because I’m a woman of colour,” she said.
In just a week, the fourth-year Commerce student has shared more than 170 experiences and posts on the account exposing issues of inequity, exclusion and systemic racism.
Zou says that’s just the tip of the iceberg; she has hundreds more from current students and alumni.
“Having that platform for so many collective voices with similar experiences validates that this is not a one-off experience,” she said.
In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Smith School of Business Dean Brenda Bowers says the school has implemented action that includes launching a new Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity and Indigeneity Task Force this summer.
“The experiences being shared on @StolenbySmith have exposed issues of inequity, exclusion and systemic racism in the school of business that cannot and will not be ignored,” she said. “The courage of Kelly Weiling Zou in founding a platform for frank and open discussion, and of the marginalized students and alumni who have shared deeply painful experiences, must be recognized. We are listening and we will take specific actions to improve the culture at Smith.
“Smith holds equity, diversity, inclusion and indigeneity as core values. We hold ourselves accountable for ensuring that our actions reflect our values in all that we do. We know that we have much work ahead; with intentionality and resolve we will foster a culture of inclusion, dignity and respect.
“The input of the Smith community is an integral part of this process. We continue to share these stories with Smith’s equity, diversity, inclusion and indigeneity (EDII) task force to serve as a catalyst to drive substantive change.”
The statement also points to other initiatives that were undertaken by the school following “student meetings and engagements that were held over a number of years”, including:
• Improving hiring processes to be more inclusive. All members of every hiring panel have mandatory Staff Hiring equity training and there is an Employment Equity Representative on each committee
• Educating students with more EDII content in programs, including embedding cultural intelligence (CQ) training in the curriculum in first and second year
• Establishing a dedicated function for Indigenous recruitment and support (hired in 2017)
• Adding a Diversity and Inclusivity Coordinator in the undergraduate Commerce program (hired in 2019)
• Partnering with organizations that are leaders in EDII, such as Catalyst Canada. Read more about the partnership here.
• Supporting student groups that prioritize EDII, such as EDGE, QWIL, QCMHA, Q+, Smith Commerce Indigenous Council, and Reconciliation on Bay
• Encouraging research that will lead to more inclusive organizations and society.
• Improving hiring processes to be more inclusive.
• Adding a Diversity and Inclusivity Coordinator in the undergraduate Commerce program
• Supporting student groups that prioritize Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity and Indigeneity
Zou says she will continue to publish the stories being sent to her, and push for concrete change.
“I empathize and understand that institutional change is so slow, but it’s irresponsible to keep bringing these students from marginalized communities if they’re leaving the school with trauma.”