Carleton student group votes to end Shinerama campaign
Published Tuesday, November 25, 2008 4:58PM EST
A student association at Carleton University has decided to cancel its annual Shinerama campaign benefiting cystic fibrosis according to the belief the disease only affects white people, who are mostly male.
The school's student council made the move after passing a motion stating: "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."
Nick Bergamini was the only elected member on council to vote against the decision.
"It's political correctness gone horribly wrong. Certainly, they view this as a win for diversity. I see it as a loss for the charity," he told CTV Ottawa.
Shinerama events occur during the school's orientation week and proceeds go to the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
According to Bergamini, the motion read that orientation week strives to be inclusive and volunteers should feel like their fundraising efforts are serving a diverse community.
A spokesperson for the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, however, says the student association didn't have all the facts when they made the decision.
Although it's correct to say that cystic fibrosis "does affect Caucasian populations primarily," the term Caucasian includes people from South Asia, North Africa, the Persian Gulf and Israel, said Cathleen Morrison, CEO of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
"These are Caucasian populations," Morrison told CTV.ca. "These people do not have white skin. They have CF, it now seems, in the same ratios as other Caucasian people who do have white skin."
Cystic fibrosis is the most common genetic fatal disease in young people in Canada and affects just as many young girls as boys, Morrison added.
Carleton students have participated in Shinerama for 24 years and have raised nearly $1 million for the cause.
"I don't believe that you should be playing politics with a charity," Bergamini said. "It's the most un-political thing. It's something that's supposed to bring people together and now they've done something that's incredibly divisive."
Bergamini's sentiment was shared by many students on the Carleton campus Tuesday, who said the decision goes too far.
"I think it's a little going overboard," said one student.
"That's kind of harsh just to completely cut it," said another.
The president of Carleton's student council, though, says the public has the wrong idea about what the association was hoping to accomplish by cancelling the campaign. Brittany Smyth said the colour of someone's skin wasn't at issue; rather, the decision was made to spread the university's fundraising efforts to other charities.
"There was some discussion about that issue but very small. Most of it was around just switching it up and doing something different for a change," Smyth told CTV Ottawa.
Shinerama began in 1964, and events are held at nearly 60 Canadian university and college campuses. Students shine shoes, wash cars and hold other fundraising events as part of the campaign. The program has raised nearly $19 million for the CCFF.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Catherine Lathem