Students speak out after gates taken down at Laurier social work building
KITCHENER -- The gates in front of the doors to Laurier’s faculty of social work building may be down now, but students say there’s still more work to be done.
Many spoke up earlier this week saying the school was sending the wrong message, and at odds with their mandate, by blocking the entrances to the Downtown Kitchener building.
The university has since taken the gates down, but students still gathered outside the building Saturday afternoon to speak out about the issue at hand.
“Now we actually have to engage in the repair process and trying to rectify the harm we have caused our neighbours and our community,” said Jessica Hutchison, a PhD student at the faculty of social work. “We also have to develop and engage in a much longer term relationship with our community.”
In a statement posted to Twitter earlier this week, the faculty says the gates were installed in response to safety concerns raised after COVID-19 caused students to work remotely.
“We don’t need to protect property, we need to protect people and we need to take care of people,” said Judah Oudshoorn, a PhD student at the faculty of social work.
Laurier announced they would be taking down the gates on Friday after important concerns were raised by the community.
“Moving forward, I am optimistic that by engaging our community we can develop a constructive way forward that supports a safe and welcoming social work building for all,” said Dawn Buzza, dean of the faculty of social work, in a statement.
The Saturday afternoon demonstration to call for the removal of the gates was still held, but used to collect supplies and gather donations for Sanguen Outreach.
Hutchison says that the removal of the gates is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to raise awareness and to advocate for those in the community who are experiencing homelessness, struggling with drug use, or those who need a hand to get back on their feet.
She adds that they’ll need to work with upper administration to make tangible change happen.