In the spirit of creating a respectful and collegial environment, the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies does not accept the use of racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and ableist and other slurs by faculty, staff, or students. While teaching about and discussing systemic oppressions, we need to be sensitive, reflexive, and careful about the effects of using a charged word. A slur is a word that is so charged with contexts of hateful and demeaning usage that no space can be considered a neutral, academic one in which that charge is suspended. Slurs have harmful and even dehumanizing effects.
We recognize that the uses and meanings of words change over time and that change is of scholarly and social importance. However, the personal stakes of these processes are highly differential and that is why, especially as faculty, reflexivity about our different positionalities is necessary. In SICS classrooms, we have discussions and readings about naming practices and shifting identity vocabularies. Faculty have the responsibility to contextualize and guide discussions so as not to reproduce harm. While we fully recognize the classroom as a collective learning space where we learn by sharing our ideas, testing ideas we’re not sure of in public forums, and hearing how others respond, we will proceed on the principle that slurs should not be uttered and that our work is to participate in their being put to rest. The appearance of a slur in a reading or archival material will be handled with sensitivity to the original and present-day contexts, the writer’s positionality, and recognition of power relations.