Spurred by the global protests over the death of George Floyd in the United States, a team of senior students at the Vancouver School of Economics are holding a “workathon” fundraiser for Black, Indigenous, and queer organizations at the end of June.
“We were heartbroken over the horrific news of Mr. Floyd’s death, among many others, and we felt compelled to act,” said VSE student Felipe Grosso, one of the co-organizers of the student-run initiative, called the Workathon for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ Solidarity.
“Systemic anti-Blackness, racism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia are dehumanizing to everyone they touch,” said VSE student and co-organizer Amedeus D’Souza. “We believe that as a collective, we must affirm our identity as an inclusive economics community.”
From June 28 to June 30, Grosso and D’Souza, alongside VSE students Wenxin Ma and Hongkai Yu, will work 10 hours each day to manually collect and record job outcomes for economics PhD graduates. Inspired by hackathons, events that see computer programmers develop software over a short period of time, the students’ “workathon” will involve developing a comprehensive and open source database of job placements by PhD graduates in economics. This database will have the potential to be used by researchers studying systemic discrimination in markets.
The four students involved will donate the money they would normally earn for this work as research assistants to Indspire, Qmunity, and the Sadie Collective, split evenly among the three organizations. They hope to generate more than $1000 worth of paid work to donate. The professor they work for has agreed to match their donation already. The students have also collected pledges from other faculty members.
Grosso and D’Souza are encouraging others from the VSE community to match their donation if they can, or to make a donation of any amount to one of the organizations they have chosen.
“Donating money is one way to contribute, and we are grateful for anyone who can join us in doing so,” said Grosso. “But we also hope our efforts can prompt more vital conversations about racism and discrimination among our peer group and community members.”
”These are challenges that pervasive not only in the U.S., but here in Canada, and we need to listen, learn, and reflect on how our privileges contribute to injustices,” adds D’Souza.
For more details about this student initiative, Workathon for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ Solidarity, visit: https://twitter.com/W4S_2020
About the organizations the students are supporting
Indspire is a “national Indigenous registered charity that invests in the education of Indigenous people for the long-term benefit of these individuals, their families and communities, and Canada.”
Qmunity is a Vancouver-based non-profit that “works to improve queer, trans, and Two-Spirit lives.”
The Sadie Collective is an American non-profit that “addresses the pipeline and pathway problem in economics, finance, data science, and public policy” for Black women in quantitative sciences.