New Brunswick

George Elliott Clarke responds to racism allegations at Mt. A

A leading voice for black Canadians, George Elliott Clarke, says he is not surprised by the recent allegations of racism at Mount Allison University.

Clarke says there has been an upsurge in racist and sexist behaviour at universities in North America

Minority students don't feel supported at Sackville university. 2:04

A leading voice for black Canadians, George Elliott Clarke, says he is not surprised by the recent allegations of racism at Mount Allison University.

The author and playwright from Nova Scotia is a professor of English literature at the University of Toronto.

He says incidents of racism, sexism and homophobic behaviour are on the rise at universities across North America and it cannot be tolerated by students.

"They deserve as simply citizens and as students ... to have their equality absolutely affirmed and recognized and defended by the university administration," Clarke said.

"I know the university administrations believe this but they also need to act on it."

Rachel Dimanche is a cross cultural trainer who offers workshops at schools and businesses.

She believes incidents of racism are decreasing.

"Even in the community itself you can see a lot of diversity of friends and couples and even in the professional world, like me working here as a visible minority, in every other professional place you see that there are so many other cultures getting a chance to succeed."

Clarke warns that when groups fighting for equality rest on their laurels, progress can be lost.

"Do we want to graduate students who are able to think critically about all the major issues confronting us as human beings ... or do we want to people to graduate who feel comfortable with their prejudices?"

Mount Alison University administration says it wants students to come forward with complaints, and says it has dealt with past concerns by offering training.

In January members of a student group at Mount Allison University, Black Students for Advocacy, Awareness and Togetherness, came forward to share their experiences.

They said there have been many instances of racism, including comments about watermelon, fried chicken and hip hop music and a campus Halloween party where students dressed as the Jamaican bobsled team in black face.

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