By: Joshua Weresch
It has been a long time since I’ve spent any measure of time on McMaster’s campus. I used to visit the art museum and Mills Library when I was there during my undergraduate days.
Those were almost ten years ago now and I hear, through the local media, only occasionally what’s happening on campus.
I’m a Hamiltonian, born and living here, a settler on Anishnaabe land and it’s been in that intervening decade that I’ve been coming to learn about history, about the stories that have been told and re-told, all of this in service of my vocation as a writer of songs, as a husband and father of three children, as a supply-teacher for this city’s public-school board, as a chaplain at a local long-term care home.
Things have, certainly, changed in those intervening years, though it’s hard to say whether it’s me or the place or, perhaps, both. There is little wistfulness in those changes, though because change must come.
What, we should ask, should abide? What is the place of a university in these times? What I have learned in those early years has been refined by life in the present days; fatherhood, solidarity, brotherhood, the ways that families age and change: all these things bear noticing.
What should abide is a commitment to gentleness and to peace, to a mutual understanding of others and their lives. If there are things that continue in the present, they are not things at all, but the relationships that formed around people and friends, formed, failing and flourishing.
In the spirit of these friendships, in the obligation of citizenship, I write this letter now to present students at McMaster and to those who read the Silhouette. I would ask that the university continue to be a place where peace can be made and found, where healthy, human relationships can continue to present themselves to one another.
A concrete way that such things can be done is by the complete refusal of the university to acquiesce and cooperate with institutions that deal in death in its many forms. If any research is being done on ways to destroy and degrade the human person and body, it must cease. If any co-operation is occurring between the military-industrial complex and the university, it, too, must cease. If any destruction of the natural environment is happening, because of the university’s action or inaction, it must, finally, cease.
I have acted on these principles as best I can by refusing to support the McMaster Alumni Association until the university acts on these principles, divesting from fossil-fuel companies, publicly standing with those who are being marginalized and oppressed in our present society and elsewhere. It is only as this university acts as a vision of a possible future that support for its various actions and arts can be gained.
I write this letter in hope.