October 27, 2014

Commentary | February 19, 2014
Standing up to racism and McGill’s hiring practices
Students and alumni of School of Social Work in support of Ou Jin Edward Lee

To whom it may concern,

We, as current students and alumni of the McGill School of Social Work, are writing to express our support for Ou Jin Edward Lee, a doctoral student at the School of Social Work. Recently, Ed Lee filed a Human Rights Complaint against McGill and the School of Social Work alleging racial discrimination in their latest hiring practices.

As students, we are greatly invested in our social work education, and care a great deal about the education and social work programming provided to future McGill students. It came with great disappointment that Ed was neither short-listed nor hired for one of the positions of part-time faculty lecturer posted and filled in Spring of 2013. We feel that as a current course lecturer, Ed has demonstrated his abilities as a dynamic, knowledgeable, invested, compassionate lecturer and educator to many students within the School. Ed has guided many students through one of the most theoretically and practically challenging courses offered within the School of Social Work, SWRK 325: Anti-Oppressive Practice. Not only has Ed demonstrated this through many years of teaching this course at both the Qualifying-Year and Bachelor levels, but he has also compassionately navigated space outside our classrooms to further explore topics and issues raised from the course.

Outside the classroom, Ed has demonstrated his commitment to the development of inclusive and conscientious community life within the School, providing professional guidance and support to many students. Ed has particularly reached out to those from minority and racialized backgrounds as they navigate the difficult systems of McGill. Additionally, after being nominated by students and community members, Ed was awarded the McGill Award for Equity and Community Building in March 2013, further demonstrating his outstanding work and commitment to advancing equity and diversity within the McGill community. We, as students, were proud to nominate Ed as a means of acknowledging his great contributions to our educational environment.

As students in the School, we believe that having our social work education representative of, influenced by, and guided by diverse faculty, staff, students, and community members is essential to our becoming conscientious, compassionate human-rights and social-justice-oriented social workers.

To encourage this, we would like to see a greater diversity of staff being hired; this includes specifically working to hire from historically underrepresented backgrounds, and people belonging to minority groups. Further, we strongly recommend that the School of Social Work adopt, and fully integrate, equitable hiring practices, seeking to encourage applicants from diverse backgrounds in order to provide long-term changes to the staff and structure of the School.

In doing so, we can ensure the voices of students participating in McGill’s Social Work program are better represented, while also providing students from marginalized and racialized backgrounds with professional and academic support at the faculty and administrative levels. Finally, we believe that providing such diversity is essential in our ability as social workers to truly ‘walk the talk’ and provide an environment at our university that models the world we strive to help create daily.

In light of the recent Human Rights Complaint, we stand with Ed, expressing our solidarity and our encouragement. We recognize that Ed’s compassion and commitment is continuously making the School of Social Work a more inclusive, representative, and social-justice-focused community – and a better place for social work learning. We strongly recommend that the McGill School of Social Work develop and truly implement a formal, publicly-published policy that leads to the integration of necessary changes to ensure diversity and representation within the school, at the faculty, and at all administrative levels.

Sincerely,
Current Students and Alumni of the McGill School of Social Work

We the below signed endorse this letter of support for Ou Jin Edward Lee, in addition to 27 anonymous endorsements:

Click here to see the signatories

1. Annie Preston, Bachelors of Social Work (BSW) Student
2. Claire Leslie, BSW Student
3. Jasmine John, BSW Student
4. Sagaanah Sivapragasam, BSW Student
5. Justin Gauvin-David, BSW Student
6. Christina Kane, BSW Student
7. Jenna Kroeker, BSW Student
8. Jacintha Findley, BSW Student
9. Andrea Palmer, BSW Student
10. Noah Eidelman, BSW Student
11. Katrina Topping, BSW Student
12. Jackson Hagner, BSW Student
13. Radney Jean-Claude, BSW
14. Portia Larlee, BSW
15. Megann Ayotte-Thompson, Master’s in Social Work (MSW)
16. Leah Freeman, MSW Student
17. Sophia-Luise Hladik, BA Student
18. Dominic Iafanti Prata, MSW Student
19. Kai Cheng Thom, MSW Student
20. Anouk Huizink, MSW Student
21. Jimmy Bang, MSW Student
22. Catherine Mcpherson, Q-Year Program
23. Alison Gault, Master’s Program
24. Bonnie Pero Graduated from Master’s Program
25. Rachel Auclair, BSW Student
26. Sidara Ahmad, BSW Student
27. Kelsey Hylland, BSW Student
28. Catherine Duguay, BSW Student
29. Rebecca Berman, BSW Student
30. Neeti Sasi, MSW
31. Johanna Petkau, MSW Student
32. Amber Green, MSW Student
33. Carly Boyce, BSW
34. Corinna Gulkin, MSW
35. Nicole Dawn Dunbar, MSW
36. Alexa, MSW Student
37. Joanna Kolb, MSW Student
38. Sandrine Lacroix-Sarradet, MSW Student
39. Michael Freeman, BSW
40. Alex Beveridge, MSW
41. Shanna Strauss, MSW Student
42. Angela Chiarells, BSW Student
43. Virginie Yeba Gbongo, BSW Student

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