RPIRG News & Events


RPIRG’s response to Dr. Gad Saad’s talk on Sept. 18

**The following letter was sent to the University faculty and administration responsible for proposing and organizing the talk by Dr. Gad Saad on Monday, Sept. 18. The talk was part of the University of Regina’s Deliberation and Debate series.

This letter is the latest in a thread of correspondence where we had expressed concerns about this talk.**

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Good morning all,

I am writing today to reiterate my unease with both the decision to invite Dr. Saad to speak at the University of Regina, and with the response I have received from those involved in proposing and coordinating the talk. From the sounds of it, the majority of the talks in this series so far have involved many thoughtful and engaging speakers – but for me, this one was going to, and did, miss the mark. In an announcement about the idea behind the series, President Timmons said:

“Over the past few years, however, I have watched with increasing concern the debates over free speech and academic freedom that have taken place at our University and at other campuses across North America.  I share the concern of those who believe that dialogue at our universities is becoming less civil, and of those who worry that the idea of “political correctness” can too easily be used to stifle meaningful debate.

Universities should always be places where everyone supports – and has the opportunity to participate in – impassioned and thoughtful debate on sensitive and controversial topics.   I want us to have open, civil, and robust discussion on issues that should be important to us all precisely because of their controversial nature.  The most difficult conversations are often the most important ones, and we should not shy away from them. Rather, we should participate in them whenever we can.”

This quest for open, civil, and robust discussion of controversial issues, if not planned and facilitated carefully, has the potential to be directly in conflict with the University’s own values, such as:

Inclusivity & Diversity – We are a learning community.  We value interaction between faculty members and students as the fundamental activity of the academy. We recognize and support the diversity of our students’ needs, and are inclusive of our Aboriginal, new Canadian, and international students, employees and partners. We aim to be accessible to all who wish to learn with us. We welcome the world to our campuses.”

Accountability & Well-Being – We are accountable for our performance to each other, our students, our alumni and the public. We value a safe, healthy, and supportive community.”

In the case of Dr. Saad, this conflict was brought into sharp relief. I was told that students who oppose Dr. Saad or are offended by him were welcome to attend the talk and engage in debate with him. Not everyone feels safe to do this but I asked if counseling supports could be made available – in case someone did this but needed to debrief or talk after. We were told that counseling already exists and students can seek it out if needed, but that no extra resources would be provided here as it would give the impression that the talk could cause harm. However, extra campus security was readily available last night outside the auditorium suggesting resources were made available to effectively alleviate opposition or protest but none were made to help make speaking against or challenging Dr. Saad more accessible.

In light of Dr. Saad’s talk, I want to call on the Deliberation and Debate committee and the President to resolve the following contradictions:

  • How can trans and gender diverse students feel safe and supported when someone who testified against trans rights, refers to trans men as “woman who think they’re men,” and speaks misinformation about biology (conflating gender and sex) is invited here?
  • How can the university confidently say that it is engaging in a process of Indigenization, and working towards the TRC’s Calls to Action, when it welcomes someone here who mocks and dismisses the concept of cultural appropriation? Someone who also seemed to misrepresent the story of Indigenous UBC professor Lorna June McCue, by omitting information about her case for tenure in order to imply that she was looking for a free pass?
  • How can many of our international students feel welcome here when a visiting professor is given a platform to provide opinions about the spread of political conservative Islam – opinions that are not substantiated by rigorous data – and single it out as being uniquely harmful, in a current climate of violent anti-Islam sentiments?
  • How can students working through trauma feel like their experiences are valid and that they won’t be victim blamed when they see an invited speaker has written articles misinterpreting the purpose of and deriding trigger warnings and safe spaces?

Freedom of speech is a valid topic of debate. However, I think that Saad’s talk served to validate some people who were looking for reasons to avoid working towards inclusive language and actions. One couldn’t help but notice the number of “Make America Great Again” hats that made an appearance at the lecture. I think that there are other ways to carefully consider and facilitate this discussion while still respecting and supporting student safety. There are many community organizations and individuals in Regina alone who are already doing great front line work to bridge communities and educate the public. These groups have a wealth of knowledge to share and should be supported in their work and engaged in the future about topics like this.

Failure to interrogate and reconcile this above conflict of values has meant that someone like Dr. Saad was able to be validate harmful attitudes, and also that no extra safety accommodations were made available to students – an accommodation that could make engaging with and/or challenging him more accessible. This was unfortunate. I hope that if anything, the concerns expressed about this talk can lead the University to look at and adopt more rigorous vetting and student safety policies. I look forward to hearing how the University plans to respond to this and would welcome an invitation to be part of future dialogues.

 

Krystal Lewis
Executive Director
Regina Public Interest Research Group

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RPIRG 2016-17 AGM and Teach-In on September 27th

The RPIRG Annual General Meeting is coming up soon!

Where: RIC Atrium

When: September 27, 2017 from 11:30am-1pm

Agenda:

11:30-12:30    Teach-In: Free Speech on Campus – When Words Become Weapons

12:30-1pm    RPIRG AGM and pizza and hangs!

Each year for our AGM we try to incorporate an engaging talk or workshop, as well as delicious pizza, in order to make things a bit more fun. This year we will be hosting a teach-in about free speech, with more details coming soon.

As a student of the UofR, you are also a member of RPIRG, and this is your chance to vote on some important aspects of our operations, including approving our audited financial statements attached below! If you’d like to submit a motion to be considered at the meeting, please let us know (or chat with us if you like as well) by the end of the day on Friday, September 22.

If you have any questions about either the talk or the AGM process please feel free to contact us or stop by our office.

Financial Statements 2017

Minutes from 2015-16 AGM

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RPIRG Green Patch Sign Competition

RPIRG & the Faculty of Media, Art and Performance are excited to be holding an artistic competition for a new sign for the RPIRG Green Patch community garden!

Students are invited to propose ideas for a new RPIRG Green Patch sign.  This juried process presents an excellent opportunity to realize a work of art for exhibition in a public space. The Green Patch is located north of the Academic Green, and the artwork would be installed in the entrance to the garden. The physical structure of the sign is already in place and is constructed of wood paneling, 82cm x 152cm (height x width).

For more details & information on how to submit your proposal, click HERE.

Sign structure/base:

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Welcome, Krystal Lewis!

On behalf of the RPIRG Board of Directors and Staff, I would like to welcome our new Executive Director Krystal Lewis! Make sure you come by the office to welcome Krystal and say ‘hi’.

A little bit about Krystal:

Krystal is originally from the Maritimes but has called Regina home for over 20 years. She is also an alumna of the UofR, and has been around campus more years than she can remember. Her hobbies include frisbee, cycling, and all things trivia. She is excited to dig into her new role as ED and find ever more ways for RPIRG to support student and community activism.

Krystal Lewis

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CALL FOR PROPOSALS – Generating Momentum 2017

Generating Momentum is excited to announce it’s call for workshop proposals and Artist(s)-in-Residence for camp in 2017!

Generating Momentum 2017 will take place at the beautiful Camp Easter Seal facilities in Manitou Lake, SK from August 24-27. 

14Workshops:

Workshop proposals should fall under one of two program themes: Real Collaboration: Accomplices, not Allies; or Accountable Communities. The workshops will be offered in two one-hour sessions between 8:45am and noon on Saturday, August 26th. Please read the full call for proposals BEFORE submitting your application.

 

Full call for proposals and application: generatingmomentumcamp.wordpress.com/workshops/

Artist(s)-in-Residence:15

The Generating Momentum organizing partners are seeking an individual or collaborative team of two Saskatchewan artists to serve as Artist(s)-in-Residence for the duration of the 2017 Generating Momentum camp, and to work in partnership with the organizing committee and camp participants in order to contribute to the overall camp goals and objectives. Please read the full call for proposals BEFORE submitting your application.

Full call for proposals and application: generatingmomentumcamp.wordpress.com/artist-program/

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Green Patch planting has started & WE NEED VOLUNTEERS!

Contest PicGet your gardening gloves out (or borrow some of ours), and get ready to help us in the Green Patch garden!

Your friendly neighbourhood Garden Coordinator, Leonel, has begun planting with the help of volunteers in the Green Patch! Once planted, the Garden Coordinator relies on volunteers to help maintain, and eventually harvest the produce. Volunteering is a great way to relax, meet new people, get your hands on the freshest produce in town, and learn about caring for food-producing plants in this organic community-driven garden.
RPIRG is proud to donate the majority of produce to Carmichael Outreach.

To sign up for the volunteer list, complete the form below. To help with planting THIS WEEK (until May 26th), visit the Facebook event page HERE.

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Job Posting: Executive Director

Office Group - Banner Revised

We’re hiring a new Executive Director!

If you have experience in non-profit management and are passionate about social and environmental justice issues, then this is the job for you!

Position Details:
The Executive Director manages and oversees all the operations of the organization. The Executive Director supervises and works in collaboration with the Outreach and Events Coordinator, and various other contract/seasonal staff positions. The ideal candidate would have ties to Regina’s activist community and experience working with non-profits. The Executive Director will work with a volunteer Board of Directors, and is accountable to them. Together they will establish and update the policies and direction of the organization on an ongoing basis. This will require an understanding of governance and campus life, and the flexibility to work with university students.

For more information, please view the job posting: RPIRG Executive Director Job Posting

Deadline to Apply:     Friday, May 12, 2017 at 12:00AM

To Apply:    Please send your cover letter and resume to info@rpirg.org

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KONELINE: our land beautiful

koneline imageRPIRG is proud to be the community partner for the upcoming documentary screening of KONELINE: our land beautiful. Watch the trailer HERE.

Date: April 21-27, 2017

Time: 1pm & 7pm

Location: Rainbow Cinemas, Regina

ABOUT THE FILM:

KONELINE: our land beautiful is a cinematic poem examining the land, the people, and the industry of northwest British Columbia in the face of the controversial expansion of mining. The film does not preach nor lecture, but rather finds poetry in every person – diamond driller or Tahltan elder. The story it tells is of the constant struggle to balance jobs and the environment.

This story from BC transcends the provincial boundaries, and speaks to all who exist in times of resource extraction and depletion of wilderness. KONELINE brings the viewer in to meet the people who face inexorable change cutting through the rhetorical roar of our times. It is turning heads and changing minds. Don’t miss it.

More information available on the website or the Facebook page. Please share with your networks.

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Election 2017: RESULTS ARE IN!

WELCOME NEW BOARD MEMBERS!RPIRG would like to thank all of the amazing candidates who ran for positions on our 2017-18 Board of Directors in the recent election. Your passion and hard work made this election one of the most exciting we’ve ever seen!

Win or lose, we hope to work with all of these wonderful people and form meaningful connections with them in the future!

Congratulations to the 6 newest members of the RPIRG Board of Directors:

  1. Catherine Pamisaran
  2. Claire McLellan
  3. Taya Triffo
  4. Lexie Obey
  5. Jamie LaRose
  6. Levi Paul

You can find more information on each of the folks above by visiting our 2017 Election webpage.

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Job Opportunity: Green Patch Coordinator

 We’re Hiring a 2017 Green Patch Coordinator!

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The RPIRG Green Patch is a 5400 sq ft vegetable garden behind the Dr. John Archer Library at the U of R. It’s a source of sustainable, locally grown organic food – part of a campus movement for community engagement and sustainable development. The Green Patch is the third community garden in the University of Regina’s Edible Campus. Launched on March 28th 2012, it is a response to the need for urban centres to invest in sustainable, locally grown, secure food sources.

We are looking to hire a coordinator to run the Green Patch from April 24 -September 29, 2017.

Applications are due on March 27 at 4pm.

Find the full job description and how to apply here – Green Patch Job Description – 2017

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