Dear Laurier community, Graduate Students’ Association, and the observer-participants with attention upon/into our school;
My name is Kariel Tejai, currently undertaking MA Theology: Public Faith & Spirituality. My undergraduate, HBA Psychology: Research Specialist, was recognized in October 2016.
I write to you as included in the queer community (I choose not to letter the community, as it denies someone’s identity, and I grieve when I’ve forgotten to represent a missing vantage point); as an alumna and graduate student; as a person with disability.
The most significant point I may stress is this: The trans community, amongst all who are subjected to prejudice, discrimination, silence, ostracizing, acts of hatred and/or violence intentional, etc., deserve and should be granted apology and safety from their attackers and dissidents, not the academic communities as whole bodies.
The university, I emphasize, is not therapeutic space. The university, I underscore, is not a place to advance any political movement.
Tertiary education is for developing, engaging, and fostering awareness, knowledge, skills, and critical analytical techniques in all facets of life. The goal is not to mass produce detached scholars, nor scholars founded in psychological reactivity designed to facilitate sociolegal ambition(s).
The goal is to enrich the entirety of personhood by their presence, activity, and application of learning. There should never be any form of institutionalized harm directed or applicable to any person covered by the university’s wings.
If Laurier is to uphold the mandate for inclusivity and integrity, I propose that my institution recall its mission and missives in entirety. Its history, its growth and meaningfulness not only as a potential training ground, not only as a force-within-development, and not only as its symbolic and manifest representations to all in as all, within and without, being and beyond its ken.
Policy design cannot possibly accommodate every person, every story, every history, every event. This is an ethical violation of the place of a university. My case is an illustrative testament to the boundaries of the university and illuminative of its willingness for opening wide the doors to the tertiary. And despite all this, the fact that a teaching assistant’s lesson is being thrown on to a pedestal for a judgment call to impact the present and future of my institution, is a most troublesome blow to all parties involved. All.
In conclusion: While I am for the right to free speech, I temper this with the observant reminder that all rights are held to full responsibilities as participants may exercise within their respected and embodied capacities. While I am affronted with the lived traumatic experiences of my peers, I condemn the individuals who take any dialogue at their choosing to empower their misdirected violence – not the institutional body itself, and not the academic communities intertwined to Wilfrid Laurier University.
As a graduate student of the future Martin Luther University College, I end this open letter with one of my favoured quotes, one by Aristotle: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
Blessings and good will to you, to us, and to all,
+ Kariel Tejai