URSU alleged of Islamophobia 

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A person sitting in a dark room has their face illuminated by a laptop screen. They are typing intently.
And who am I? That’s one secret I’ll never tell… You know you love me. XOXO, UR Concerned Students. iAmMrRob via Pixabay

A March 9 email, signed “UR Concerned Students,” cannot presently be linked to U of R students

“This alarming discrimination threatens the sense of safety and belonging that every student deserves, potentially affecting their academic success, mental health, and overall experience at our university,” read a statement made in an email sent in the early morning hours of March 9, 2024, signed “UR Concerned Students.”  

Those who sent the email to a plethora of news media outlets, student organizations, and student-union-involved individuals allege that the University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU) is perpetuating Islamophobia.  

The email marks URSU president Tejas Patel as a key player. “…Mr. Patel has unjustly terminated six Muslims long term staff members. These individuals were dismissed under circumstances that were not only reckless and illegal but also in violation of their basic human rights in Canada. This situation raises significant concerns regarding the ethical standards and integrity upheld by the University of Regina.” 

The email did not mention the reasons they were given for having been terminated, details on the termination processes and legality, any timeline regarding terminations or experiences of Islamophobia, or who the reported six staff members were. The only student named in the email was Patel.  

“I mean, it’s a very serious accusation,” said Aoun Muhammad, URSU’s interim General Manager (GM). “We will look into it, and whoever has claimed that, they have to prove it now.” 

“None of them were performance-based,” Muhammad noted when asked about termination justifications, noting five known terminations in contrast to the six claimed in the email. “I can’t say more than that. I can say as much as what’s not going to affect if they go to law or they go to court for grievances, but none of the terminations were about Islamophobia. Five staff members got terminated for sure, we acknowledge that as well, but none of them got fired because they were Muslims.” 

“I’ve been here three years,” he added, “and I haven’t seen someone getting terminated for performance action.” 

“Five got fired, yes. 15 to 20 are still working here and there is no job insecurity, no one is coming after them. I was in the room for most of the discussions as well. Ethical conduct some of the issues were, some really… let’s say, really grave misconducts that we had to address.”  

Muhammad claimed that “according to all the management group and executives, they [the terminations] are just causes. Among executives we had a Muslim, among management two Muslims who were a part, and no. […] It’s nothing to do with Islam at all. They can argue that it’s not a just cause – like there was no sense to follow – they can argue those things.”  

Can the terminated individuals argue the firing was a result of Islamophobia? Muhammad says “definitely not.” 

While the email signed by “UR Concerned Students” did not note details in claims of unjust terminations or Islamophobia, its authors included information on Patel’s faith. “Mr. Patel, known for his religious background as a practicing Hindu from India, he is at the center of a serious case of religious discrimination against Muslim [sic].” 

Muhammad voiced frustration at the inclusion of this background information. “If someone is a practicing Hindu, it doesn’t automatically mean he’s Islamophobic. If someone’s a Muslim, which I am, it doesn’t automatically mean I’m an Antisemite. So that assumption, that allegation, it’s very grave and it’s slanderous, and it’s bigotry as well.” 

“Hinduphobia also exists.” he continued. “I would say religious-phobia. Practicing Catholics? They get judged. It’s something we should discourage, and it exists on the campus as well.” 

Muhammad denied to comment on the specifics of who URSU suspects to have sent the email but claimed students from the University of Regina (U of R) were not involved. “I have a background in cybersecurity and tried to track that [the email] as well, and it’s not from U of R. It’s not even from Saskatchewan.” 

Muhammad outlined the process for URSU staff to raise concerns if they experience discrimination in the workplace: “If it happens within the organization they can tell their manager or supervisor, and if they’re the one who’s doing the abuse they can come to the next person in line.” Muhammad made clear that there are many avenues for reporting grievances at URSU. “If it has never been reported and then you just claim, ‘It happened to me,’ after termination, then the case is really weak after that,” he explained.  

It remains to be seen whether “UR Concerned Students” will be identified, whether their allegations will be backed by evidence, and whether there are issues of discrimination within our students’ union.  

If you or a student you know was involved with the sending of the email, please reach out to the Carillon.  

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