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Anti-diversity op-ed writer to be hosted by free speech club at UBC

Last Updated Sep 29, 2019 at 4:17 pm PDT

FILE: The Vancouver Sun is trying to make amends for an op-ed published over the weekend, which has been widely condemned as racist. (Kurtis Doering, NEWS 1130 Photo)

A UBC club is hosting an event that is being condemned as giving a platform to speakers with racist, hateful views

Mark Hecht has argued Canada needs to "say goodbye to diversity, tolerance and inclusion" in an op-ed

Ricardo Duchesne was criticized by his former faculty as having views that are "racist and without academic merit"

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The man who wrote an anti-diversity op-ed for the Vancouver Sun is now being hosted on campus at UBC, but another student group is asking the school to cancel it.

The UBC Students For Freedom of Expression has invited Mark Hecht and Ricardo Duchesne to speak at an event on academic freedom, immigration and diversity in Canada on Oct. 9. Both speakers are critical of diversity: Hecht argued Canada needs to “say goodbye to diversity, tolerance and inclusion,” while Duchesne was criticized by his former faculty as having views that are “racist and without academic merit.”

RELATED: ‘Absolute garbage’: Vancouver Sun op-ed draws backlash, criticized as racist

Now another students club is asking UBC to cancel it, saying it will make students feel unsafe and unwelcome on campus.

“How are we supposed to be studying when we have to spend all of our time fighting back against hatred and pseudoscience and outright propaganda on our own campus? These sorts of things have no place at the university, they have no place in civilized society, period. Right? That’s why you saw the response to that op-ed in the newspaper. Shouldn’t a prestigious university have an even higher bar than a newspaper?” said the student.

NEWS 1130 has agreed to withhold the student’s name for fear of retribution.

RELATED: Media council backs newspapers’ handling of criticized anti-diversity op-ed

UBC has confirmed the event is going ahead. Provost¬†Andrew Szeri said in a¬†statement that while the school allows people from the community speak, that doesn’t mean it supports, endorses or agrees with the speakers’ views.

And since the school isn’t stepping in, UBCSAB says its up to students to act.

“This isn’t just the first time this has happened, this is a pattern now from the university. You kind of have to question what sort of limit they’re okay with,” says the student. “What sort of welcoming learning environment does that create for students of colour, marginalized groups on campus, people whose voices we genuinely need to hear more of, not people who are getting books published and getting op-eds published in newspapers.

“These people’s free speech rights are not under attack, they’re simply facing consequences for spreading white supremacist propaganda.”

A representative from the UBC Students for Freedom of Expression says people who don’t like what the speakers are saying are welcome to come and challenge their views.

Nick Kosovic with the club says pro-diversity statements will be read at the event, and says the group is attempting to find UBC professors to join and speak in favour of diversity.

“[Immigration] is a pertinent issue on the minds of many Canadians. We think that it would be the best way of dealing with these ideas responsibly, to bring them to the university community where arguably, we have the most educated and well-versed population in our society to discuss, criticize and take a look at these ideas.”

He says the club attempted to book a pro-diversity speaker to counter Hecht and Duchesne, but booking fell through.

SFU event speakers criticized as transphobic

Meantime, Simon Fraser University is being blasted on social media for an event hosting a speaker that has been denounced by some LGBTQ groups as transphobic.

RELATED: Vancouver Public Library told it can’t participate in next month’s Pride Parade

Meghan Murphy is on a panel for November’s event on media bias and gender identity. The Vancouver Public Library hosted Murphy at an event earlier this year, which had it banned from participating in this summer’s pride parade.

Lindsay Shepherd — a former grad student Wilfred Laurier University who was disciplined for discussing gender-neutral pronouns — is moderating.