Source: Facebook

A Queen’s University student is speaking out after he and his peers were forced out of an election by activists who claimed he posed a threat to “equity deserving groups” for being affiliated with the Conservative party.

Noah Mawji is the son of refugees from Uganda. His two running mates, Jason Kim and Nicolas David Brasset Duque, are also visible minorities.

Mawji was seeking to be the vice-president of university affairs for his student union, the Queen’s Alma Mater Society. Kim was seeking to be the union’s president and Brasset Duque the vice-president of operations.

The men called themselves Team JNN, an abbreviation of their first initials.

Everything was going well for them – so well that they were running unopposed, in fact.

Mawji learned during a podcast interview that there was a “no vote campaign” launched against the trio, urging students to vote “non-confidence” to block them from being acclaimed.

Mawji said the campaign’s organizers launched an Instagram account to promote their opposition to Team JNN. Activists claimed Mawji was unprepared for the election as he did not have a good enough stance on the financial pressures faced by Queen’s and was unable to properly represent “equity deserving groups.”

“They were coming at me specifically,” said Mawji. “They feared that (I would be) a threat to ‘equity deserving groups.’” 

Also at issue was Mawji affiliation with the Conservative club on campus, which issued a statement opposing the canceling of Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, in 2021. They also took issue with Mawji’s affiliation with the Jewish groups Hillel and CJPAC. 

“Noah Mawji’s affiliation with Queen’s University Conservative Association is a concern to the student body,” the activists wrote on Instagram. They did not like that Mawji did not have a strong stance in favour of so-called “pressing issues” like “the movement to decololonize campus.”

“We believe John A. Macdonald should be remembered as the notorious colonist he was, whose legacy represents violent genocide and the erasure of Indigenous nations across Turtle Island.” 

In addition to attacks on Instagram, Mawji says activists put up posters maligning him around the university.

“I was being slandered on campus, you know, I’m walking around and getting a lot of looks,” he said, adding that at times, he was fearful. 

“There was much wrong with everything that they were saying,” noted Mawji. “I think we might be one of the most diverse teams to potentially ever run.” He noted that his parents were refugees who fled Uganda, and that one of his other teammates was Asian and the other South American. He also noted that those behind the campaign were white.

Yet, Mawji says neither the student union nor the university stepped in when he was being smeared, despite a previous emphasis on fostering “safe spaces” on campus. 

“I reached out to the (student union) and they were basically saying ‘this is not a smear.’”

In a statement to True North, Queen’s University said it could not comment “on specifics” involving the student union. The university did, however, reiterate its commitment to safe spaces and free speech.

“Queen’s University is committed to ensuring the university is a place where people can come together safely with thoughtfulness, respect, and compassion, even when ideas or opinions being expressed may be disturbing, offensive, or unpopular,” a university spokesperson said. “There is absolutely no place at Queen’s for threats, hatred, harassment, or discrimination – and free expression on campus remains subject to all applicable Canadian laws.”

The Queen’s Alma Mater Society and the Queens University administration did not respond to True North’s request for comment.

The ongoing smears pushed one of Mawji’s running mates to withdraw from the campaign, causing the whole slate to get kicked out of the running.

“The (student association) automatically disqualified us, because if one member of your team withdraws, then the whole team is forced to withdraw.”

Mawji said this gave woke activists what they wanted, the future implications of which concern him.

“It’s a terrible precedent, and this is the scary part. If there’s ever a conservative student running again, (woke) students know exactly what to do.”

Mawji noted that this is a broader problem with student unions.

“The people who have the most incentive to (run) are students who typically affiliate with radical left causes and want to go in and push that on people on campus, and I think that’s quite evident. Queens is not a campus that’s well known for, you know, promoting a diversity of opinions.”