CFIC is pleased to welcome a new CFIC University Club based at York University. In the early months of 2015, two students from York University visited the CFIC office with concerns about recent events at their campus. Following from that initial conversation, CFIC supported the students in an appeal through the York University administrative process to set up their new club. The students were initially denied official club status based on the principle that a freethinking club already existed on campus (York’s Freesay group, whom CFIC is also familiar with). A bit of extra attention was required to ensure that the unique interests of CFIC at York (as the new club calls themselves) were allowed to proceed.
At the bottom of this post, you will find CFIC at York’s inaugural charter and plans. In the meantime, here are just a few of the issues the students at York are investigating:
Israel-Palestine Mural Controversy
Many Canadians may not be aware of the controversy surrounding a mural hanging in the York University student’s centre. The mural has caused York University to lose substantial funding from at least one donor, Paul Bronfman and brings up a variety of questions and concerns ranging from freedom of expression through to appropriate limits to religious privilege and promotion of faith-based violence.
Religious Presence on Campus
CFIC at York is also very concerned about the increasing presence of religion an religious organizations on the campus. Following through with our principle that the best way to represent the views of atheists, agnostics, humanists and other non-religious people is to “be at the table” – even if we sometimes questions the validity of the table in the first place, CFIC at York is investigating options to be part of the York “Interfaith Council“.
With serious concern regarding the rapidly growing trend towards “safe spaces”, “trigger warnings” and other questionable developments on campus, CFIC at York has begun to ask questions regarding York’s policy.
University and College campuses have always been a critical component of CFI Canada. Congratulations to CFIC at York and all of the campus freethinking, atheist, agnostic and humanist clubs for questioning activity on Canadian campuses and for ensuring that secular and non-religious students also have a place in the university community.
A Centre for Inquiry in the Interest of Diversity
Centre for Inquiry Canada at York aims to build the skeptical, secular, humanist community in a manner consistent with CFI bylaws, policies and mission statement. At York University, there is a religious centre, a church, a current student centre filled with religious groups on every floor, in which some of these groups proselytize within the university halls while students are coming to and from the library. Religious groups on campus are growing and take a lot of student space in the Student Centre. The new Student Centre, set to open in 2016, will have increased multi faith prayer space.
Our message is simple. In keeping with York University and the YFS commitment to diversity, as listed below, we secularists are advocating for space in the Student Centre in the interest of diversity.
We are dynamic, metropolitan and multi-cultural. York University is part of Canada: we encourage bilingual study, we value diversity. York is open to the world: we explore global concerns.
Reflecting, representing, embracing, and serving the diversity of York students and community without prejudice (as enumerated in the Ontario Human Rights Code). CFI at York will be designed to provide secularists on campus with proper representation. Our goal is to educate and advocate, not to provoke or agitate. As an educational organization, CFI York’s activist activities will be conducted with a motivation to educate the public and advocate for societal change which the organization formally endorses. Keeping in line with the concept of secularism in public life, we believe religious ideology, faith based ideas, and superstition need to be kept out of the public sphere. Funding provided by the York Federation of Students (YFS) and Student Community and Leadership Development (SCLD) will help us promote the following CFI initiatives:
- · History of secularism in Canada
- · Good without God (advertisements)
- · Extraordinary claims campaign
- · CFI’s international human rights focus: Guatemala, Nigeria, Uganda, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Bangladesh
Long-term goals include:
- · Attaining space in Student Centre in the interest of diversity (secular representation)
- · Build library/book club
- · Create petition and lobby YFS to fight and end blasphemy laws