Students condemn violence and racism at York

    Students call for an Immediate Safety Audit Conducted by Safety Pioneers

    TORONTO, Jan. 25 /CNW/ - Students across Ontario expressed their concern
at the recent racist vandalism that has occurred at York University this week.
The racist slurs directly targeted black students on that campus. The door of
the York University Black Students' Alliance (YUBSA) and the men's bathroom
adjacent to it were defaced with racist slurs such as "All Niggers must die."
    "Every student deserves respect and a safe learning environment," said
Jen Hassum Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "These
statements not only tell black students on campus that they are not welcome,
but it sends the message that some students are more valued than others-an
idea which students fully reject."
    This incident, the second of its kind this month, follows a string of
attacks on campus including three sexual assaults and a recent assault of a
Student Centre employee.
    Students across Ontario are demanding that the York administration stop
dragging its feet on a campus-wide safety audit, which students have been
calling for since October 2007. Strong consensus has been reached by York
students to have safety audit-pioneers METRAC, conduct the study. At this
point, the University has made no formal commitment to seek a safety audit
from METRAC or any other organisation for at least another 2 to 3 months.
    "University administrators' approach has been to cross their fingers and
hope these problems would go away," said Gilary Massa, Vice-President Equity
for the York Federation of Students and Constituency Commissioner for the
Canadian Federation of Students. "The administration must open its eyes to the
direct threats that York students and staff are facing, and start taking
seriously recommendations being put to them by students' organisations like
the YFS and YUBSA."
    Last year, the Federation issued a report on the needs of Muslim
students, which was released in the wake of a proliferation of racist threats
against Muslim students on Ontario campuses. The report contained
recommendations that address issues ranging from combating racism on campuses
to improving reporting structures for students who have been subjected to
discriminatory or violent treatment. "Since, the release of the Task Force
report there has been a higher level awareness and dialog about campus safety
and inclusively, and a refusal on the part of students to accept anything less
then full protection of their basic human rights," said Hassum.

           The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario unites over
           300,000 college and university students from more than
                 35 students' unions throughout the province.

For further information:

For further information: Jen Hassum, Chairperson, CFS-Ontario: (416)
925-3825 or (416) 832-9073 (cell); Joel Duff, Organiser, CFS-Ontario: (416)
925-3825 or (416) 707-0349 (cell); Gilary Massa, Vice-President Equity, York
Federation of Students: (647) 869-2101 (cell)

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