TORONTO — Three Toronto-area universities have taken down posters around campus that appear to advertise a students’ group for white students.
The University of Toronto, Ryerson University and York University all said the group, called Students for Western Civilization, was not sanctioned at any of the schools and not allowed to put up the posters.
The people behind the group couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
The flyers that were taken down show two white men and a picture of the CN Tower with the words “White Students Union!”
“A poster like that is obviously a cause for concern and if there are concerns that the subject matter is offensive, they will be taken down,” said University of Toronto spokeswoman Althea Blackburn-Evans, adding that only one was found on a university bulletin board, but several more were found on public streets near campus.
There was a link on the poster pointing students to the Students for Western Civilization’s website that says York University’s student paper, Excalibur, refused to publish a piece titled “York Needs A White Students Union!”
A spokesperson for Excalibur could not immediately be reached for comment.
The piece says that York University students are indoctrinated by “neo-Marxism” and that “neo-Marxists identify white people as oppressors and everyone else as ‘the oppressed.'” It says a white students’ union would promote and celebrate the culture of western civilization.
On their website, there is a YouTube video of a sociology professor from the University of New Brunswick, Ricardo Duchesne, who discusses what he says is a bias against western civilization in university courses and textbooks.
He maintained in the video there was “a real bias in university against white students, against white history.”
Duchesne, when reached in New Brunswick by The Canadian Press, stood by his comments in the video, although he clarified that he isn’t affiliated with the group and didn’t realize the video was posted last January on the website that is now linked to the white student union group.
A student interviewed him last November to discuss the professor’s theories. Duchesne said he cannot remember the student’s name.
Duchesne said that universities taking the posters down proves his point of anti-western civilization bias.
He said if it had been a minority ethnic group’s student union “nobody would have thought anything about it, they would have said, ‘that’s great, that’s what diversity is about.'”
“But you can’t say white student union. I would have preferred European student union. But I don’t oppose this because I believe in freedom of speech and I believe that a university is a place where ideas that are controversial have to be debated in an open atmosphere.”
A spokeswoman for the University of New Brunswick said the school believes that academic freedom is an important and fundamental principle of university life.
“While we understand that academic debate can often express views that may be perceived as controversial, his views are his and his alone, and are not reflective of UNB’s values,” Heather Campbell said in an email to The Canadian Press.
The university also stood by the professor in January when he was called out by a Vancouver councillor who said the professor’s writings on a website Duchesne co-founded, Council of European Canadians, were racist.
— Follow @liamdevlincasey on Twitter
Liam Casey, The Canadian Press