The student council at an Ottawa university has reversed its controversial decision to pull out of an annual fundraiser for the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Following vocal protests from students, the Carleton University Students Association voted unanimously Monday night to:
- Support next year's cystic fibrosis fundraiser, called Shinerama.
- Donate at least $1,000 to the organization.
- Issue a formal apology.
In addition, the student councillor who crafted the controversial motion to drop the fundraiser resigned.
Donnie Northrup received hate mail and death threats after he suggested the council find a new charity to support during Orientation Week instead of participating in the same fundraiser as other universities across the country.
His motion incorrectly claimed the disease affects "only white people, and primarily men" and said students should feel their fundraising efforts "will serve their diverse communities."
One other councillor, Sean Maguire, also resigned.
"I love this university," he said, sniffling, his voice choked with emotion. "And it pains me to no end to know that we have damaged its reputation."
Ariel Kimmel, a second-year political science student at Carleton, said the student council embarrassed the whole university.
"I really hope there's lessons learned — that they do need to start representing their students better," she said.
Meanwhile, a group on campus has submitted a petition signed by 1,000 students calling for the student association president, Brittany Smyth, to be impeached over the incident, which they are calling "Shinerama-gate."
As part of Shinerama, students across the country shine shoes, wash cars and hold other activities in September that have raised $18.5 million for the foundation since 1964. The money goes toward research on cystic fibrosis and services for people who have the fatal, genetic disease.
The disease affects mainly the lungs and digestive system, causing a buildup of thick mucus that leads to infection and inflammation. The incidence of the disease is roughly equal among men and women, and it primarily affects Caucasians, including people of Middle Eastern and Indian descent.