Have you heard of or been following the controversy here in Ottawa over the Carleton University Students Association’s (CUSA) decision to drop its frosh week fundraiser for the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation?
The [Carleton University Students Association] motion, which passed 17 to 2 at the association’s Nov. 24 meeting, read: “Whereas Cystic fibrosis has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men…Be it resolved that: CUSA discontinue its support of this campaign.”
(According to the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, “. . .CF only affects people of the caucasian racial group“.)
The student who wrote the preamble to the resolution now says
. . .he’s sorry he misused the term caucasian but stands by the motion.
“I think it’s good to have people willing to take a stand in student politics, and I’ve admitted I’ve made a mistake. But I do believe in spreading the wealth, so to speak, as charities go,” he said, adding that local charities stand to benefit from the decision.
It seems like the mistake he’s acknowledging is using the term ‘caucasian’ to mean ‘white people’.
However, the term caucasian includes people from South Asia, North Africa, the Persian Gulf and Israel, according to Cathleen Morrison, CEO of the CCFF. “[Although] these are Caucasian populations,” Morrison, CEO of the CCFF told CTV [ctv.ca]. “[they] do not have white skin”.
End of story? Not quite.
With the turn away from racial theory in the late 20th century, the term Caucasian as a racial classification fell into disuse in Europe. Thus, in the United Kingdom, Caucasian is more likely than in the United States to describe people from the Caucasus, although it may still be used as a racial classification.
Sarah A Tishkoff and Kenneth K Kidd state, “Despite disagreement among anthropologists, this classification remains in use by many researchers, as well as lay people.” According to Leonard Lieberman, Rodney C. Kirk, and Alice Littlefield, the concept of race has been all but completely rejected by modern mainstream anthropology.
So there’s great controversy indeed about the validity of racial classifications, to say nothing of whether ‘caucasian’ includes non-white people. The student who wrote the preamble to the CUSA motion bases his apology on the latter issue. Here’s what the president of CUSA said in an official news release:
President Brittany Smyth has indicated that CUSA council will revisit the motion to change the orientation program charity from Shine-A-Rama.
. . .
I believe this issue has been blown out of proportion but the motion was never meant to imply that raising funds for Cystic Fibrosis research was not a worthwhile cause. I do apologize for the negative attention Carleton has received”.