In order to participate in online classes, students at George Brown College were reportedly required to “agree” that they “benefit from the colonization and genocide” of Indian tribes in Canada.
In a tweet, Canadian journalist Jonathan Kay posted screenshots of an IT department message that was popping up on students’ Zoom calls for online classes. The message began by acknowledging the Indian tribes who had occupied the college’s land before Europeans. It then accused students of benefiting from the “genocide” of those tribes.
The message concluded by claiming that, as “settlers” still benefiting from such genocide, “it is imperative we constantly engage in acts of awareness and decolonization.”
Before students were able to enter their online classes — for which they had already paid tuition — they were required to click an “Agree” button at the bottom of the page. While the message’s authors assured students that their “intent” was “not to impose agreeance,” the obvious result was exactly that: imposed agreeance.
Many were quick to react to the blatant hypocrisy of the college’s statement. Journalist James Lindsay wrote on Twitter, “George Brown College should have its stolen land and any accompanying endowments seized, since this is something they not only believe but compel belief in.”
Other schools across the U.S. and Canada have also joined in on the socially-aware, fake-woke “land acknowledgement” trend. Last spring, during Cornell University’s commencement ceremony, announcers read a statement acknowledging “the university’s place on the traditional homeland of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ’, or Cayuga Nation.”
This past week, a different Ivy League institution, Brown University, also announced an official land acknowledgement statement recognizing the school’s location “on lands that are within the ancestral homelands of the Narragansett Indian tribe.”
Of course, neither university made any commitment to a partial or complete returning of the lands they claim to have stolen.
Some individuals in higher education have attempted to push against the inanity of land acknowledgement statements. In February, Stuart Reges, a University of Washington professor, bucked the trend with an anti-acknowledgement statement he included in his class syllabus.
The statement, which predictably upset liberal administrators, read, “I acknowledge that by the labor theory of property the Coast Salish people can claim historical ownership of almost none of the land currently occupied by the University of Washington.”
The university responded by removing Reges’ statement from the online syllabus.