CALGARY (660 NEWS) – An online petition is calling for a Calgary university professor to be fired due to racist comments, tweets and alleged harassment towards BIPOC students.
The petition, asking for the removal of Frances Widdowson from Mount Royal University (MRU), has received over 1,900 signatures as of Friday morning.
“This prof had done an interview with Western Standard – within it – saying things like residential schools are a learning opportunity,” said MRU student Kainat Javed.
In the article, Widdowson said the residential school system allowed Indigenous children an education they wouldn’t have otherwise received.
However, it’s not just the article that has students calling for Widdowson’s removal.
“When you look at her Twitter, speaking about Islamaphobic things or tweeting about residential schools, tweeting about students creating this movement within the university, mocking them blatantly. It goes beyond academic freedom,” said Javed.
OMG!!! This "prof" asserts that the residential schools provided educational benefits that weren't otherwise available! She also defended @WendyMesleyCBC's reference to a book title! One student says she was RUDE! She MUST be fired, @mountroyal4u! Some BIPOCT people feel UNSAFE! pic.twitter.com/xg2sg1Bx7s
— Frances McGrath (NOT Frances Widdowson) (@FrancesWiddows1) September 8, 2020
Sign the petition ????https://t.co/9L61pfgfhV
— Kainat (@SNLpleasehireme) September 8, 2020
But Widdowson said she only took to Twitter in a satirical form of herself, to fend off what she called the mob that is out to get her.
“What happens is if you have any disagreement, whatsoever, with this ideology of wokeism, then you are targeted and there are attempts to get you fired. I’m opposed to the ideology, rooted in critical race theory, which insists on seeing everything in terms of structural white supremacy,” she said.
In a statement, President and Vice-Chancellor Tim Rahilly writes: “When views are expressed by a member of the MRU community, it does not mean the institution shares these views. Within the bounds of Canadian law, people have the basic right to freely express their ideas.
“Equally valid are obligations that all employees have to cultivate an equitable, diverse and inclusive environment free from discrimination, harassment and violence. We are reviewing the concerns in light of our strong commitment to academic freedom and freedom of expression and our established expectations of the behaviour of all members of the MRU community.”
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Across Canada, a Scholar Strike is happening Sept. 9 and 10 to bring attention to systemic racial injustice. MRU fully supports these days of action. Supporting this strike is just one thing we can do to help bring about necessary and overdue change. If there is an impact to classes, activities and services, faculty and staff will advise students and other members of the campus community. #ScholarStrikeCanada #BlackLivesMatter
Javed said the university needs to keep its commitment to creating an inclusive space.
“How can the university talk about decolonization, standing up for BLM and allowing this prof be employed?” she asked.
In response, Widdowson said she believes the university should stay out of politics and keep campus a place for discussion.