Carleton University students face recoil after dismissing cystic fibrosis as not

By Elijah Stauth

Canadian eyes have turned to Carleton University where, early last week, the Student Association voted to drop a cystic fibrosis charity as their annual Shinearama charity beneficiary. The Carleton University Student Association supported a motion that claimed cystic fibrosis is not “inclusive” enough because it “has been recently revealed to only affect white people and primarily men.”

The motion passed almost unanimously with only one of the student representatives voting against it. The only opponent to the motion, Nick Bergamini, speculated about the actions of his fellow student reps.

“I think they see this, in their own twisted way, as a win for diversity,” he said. “I see it as a loss for people with cystic fibrosis.”

This action by CUSA says a lot about the priorities of the new generations who are beginning to filter into the decision making process. The need for diversity is becoming more important than the individuals who make up those groups.

Surely the students voting on the motion were aware of the current proclivity towards diversity. In school we’ve been taught to include, not to discriminate and to be politically correct in all of our actions. When CUSA thought they had uncovered a hidden deviant to these golden rules it’s no wonder they made short work in dismissing it. The genetic components leading to cystic fibrosis predominantly affects white men and as was stated in the motion, “volunteers should feel like their fundraising efforts will serve their [sic] diverse communities.”

Canada, after all, is diverse. We fly the term multiculturalism like a brazen victory flag for all to see. And let’s not forget what these students were up against: when the primary recipient of their charity turned out to be white males, alarm bells must have been going off by the dozens. White males, after all, do not have a history of promoting heterogeneity.

When we’re thinking of race, white brings to mind the oppressive forces of slavery and exploitation in the Americas. We think of the Europeans colonizing efforts, which exemplify homogenization. Diversity does not come to mind.

And males? They don’t have a wonderful track record either. To this day, groups strive for gender equality and while progress has been made toward this end, we still find conversations turning to discussion over the male-dominated fields that women are only now breaking into.

White males are not champions of diversity. Out of the education Canadians receive, the white male systematically appears as the colonizer and the oppressor. So can we really blame these progressive students for what appears to be a grave lack of understanding? Assuming their education was similar to my own, it might be hard to find fault, but in truth such ends lead from a misunderstanding of the goals of education.

While we may have had diversity beaten into our heads, the purpose of that teaching was never meant as a path towards a blind devotion to diversity. If anything, the lessons we receive should guide people towards critically thought-out solutions to problems on a case-by-case basis.

Many of the obstacles that we have seen in our past, problems that have led Canadians to focus on diversity and inclusion, have been caused because people were unwilling to think about their specific actions and instead regurgitated what society had forced into their minds as the proper sentiment of the day. While diversity is, more often than not, a favorable end, it can clearly be taken too far. In the case of CUSA’s decision, the students simply misinterpreted North American zeitgeist, but by no means is an attitude of inclusion a misnomer for a contemporary belief. It’s simply a question of priority.

CUSA underestimated the human sensibility towards the reduction of suffering. To give funding to a group that reduces an individual’s distress and increases their lifespan ought to be encouraged. But clearly, this reduction of suffering takes precedence over certain kinds of dogma that holds diversity as its telos.

So it looks like Bergamini was right, the movement was treated as a victory, as twisted as it may have looked to him. The comforting fact is that the public saw through the mystification and recognized the need for all people to be helped. Just because an ailment affects mostly white men does not exclude it from a list of necessary causes. Diversity is important. Inclusion is important. But race and sex should not be factors in any decision of what is and what is not a reasonable cause.

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