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RAISE Celebrates Its Official Launch
Students, staff, and University of Waterloo administration came together to celebrate the official launch of Feds' newest student-run service, Racial Advocacy for Inclusion, Solidarity, and Equity (RAISE) on Wednesday, February 27 in Federation Hall.
The night began with speeches from individuals who helped build and create RAISE, including founder Fiqir Worku, who received the Lincoln M. Alexander award for her work in creating this service.
“I would have never thought that a series of tweets outlining the institutional barriers for students of colour would have gotten us to this point, but I’m glad it did,” Worku said, in reference to the Vice News article published about the school demanding proof that there were minorities on campus in 2017. “A service to support students of colour is needed for the same reasons services currently exist for women and the LGBTQ+ community at the University of Waterloo… Marginalized students are often reported to face greater obstacles and barriers because of their identity.”
Worku praised the dedicated students for the hard work they put into the creation of RAISE, many whom are current executive members of the service for its inaugural term.
Past Feds President Antonio Brieva also presented a powerful speech, describing UWaterloo’s history in creating student-run services, and the process he went through in helping to create and implement the RAISE proposal.
“Now more than ever we must do more as a collective community,” said Brieva. “We can do better. And in a campus where we pride ourselves to go beyond ideas and promote innovation, I know we can do better and we expect better.”
Other notable speakers were Victoria Rodney, current President of UW Black Association for Student Expression (BASE) and current Feds VP Student Life Savannah Richardson, both of whom were involved in the creation of RAISE.
Guest speaker University of Waterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur also appeared at the podium for a few words of appreciation for the students.
“You are here as students to learn, [but] this is the moment that we are learning from you,” Hamdullahpur said. “You also showed some very important things, not just to our students, friends, and colleagues, but to the whole world; that you can see the world from one perspective but you don’t need to accept that it will stay the same.”
Also showcased at the event were many talented poets, cultural dancers, a live band, artists and photographers that displayed the diverse and multicultural talent coming from people of colour on campus. Attendees were encouraged to wear cultural style clothing.