Western's Muslim Students' Association (MSA) is organizing a rally called “End Institutionalized Racism” on Campus at 11 a.m. on Wednesday in Red Square.
“There have been a sizeable proportion of MSA members affected by institutionalized racism in the last year or so,” MSA president Kamran Rahman said via e-mail.
Institutionalized racism is not blatant racism, but the result of a national and cultural system of oppression, Social Issues Resource Center co-coordinator Sonja Prins said.
“It's the ways our country functions that affect people of color,” Prins said.
The rally is meant to raise awareness about institutionalized racism at Western, Rahman said.
“I see people being held at a disadvantage because of their national origin, gender, etcetera, and it doesn't allow for a fair playing field for all students at WWU,” Rahman said. “More importantly, I do not see the WWU administration doing anything to replace indecent faculty members with people who are willing to treat all students equally.”
There will be testimonials by students who have experienced racism, as well as informational pamphlets about institutionalized racism, Rahman said.
“You don't have to be an ethnic minority to experience such a thing,” Rahman said. “Being handicapped, an immigrant, a person of a different faith, a person of a specific national origin, etcetera, can put you in the way of institutionalized racism and/or institutionalized prejudice.”
Institutionalized racism is a problem in college campuses across the United States, Prins said.
“Institutionalized racism is present everywhere,” Prins said. “Every domain, every institution. And the only way to really counter it is to become aware of it, and also for white people to become aware of their privilege. It's hard because it stems from years and years of oppression and years and years of racism.”
Institutionalized racism manifests itself in many ways, Prins said. For instance, there is a false belief amongst some students that there are quotas for the number of minority students admitted into Western.
“Quotas are a myth,” Prins said. “It's not about fulfilling a quota of having this many black people or this many Asian people.”
For more information about institutionalized racism, you can visit the Social Issues Resource Center at VU 512.