Ditching Secularism in University Advertising

September 2019

There is a lot of discussion in the media in regards to the series Handmaid’s Tale. As I watched the commercial for the series, a large gathering of women in modest cloths (head cover) was featured. In the far background there was a giant cross.

In the meantime, tens of millions of women suffer under Islamist oppression, a carbon copy of the Handmaid’s Tale. They have to wear the horrendous outfits in +40° weather. This is not a fantasy series for them; this is a cruel reality. In Iran and Saudi Arabia it is compulsory, for example.

At Mount Royal University in Calgary, a significant proportion of promotion posters display the hijab, our Chemistry-degree promotion poster, for example. While I was helping with a session at the Explore STEM for grade 9 girls, which should be a pinnacle of secularism, mathematics, and science, a girl (grade 9) was featured in full head cover in the promotion pamphlet.

While I support anyone attending our university regardless of religion, I do have an issue with displaying religious symbols in promotion posters for any university in Canada.

First, a university should advertise its secular nature and not display religious symbols in promotion venues, period. Second, as I mentioned above, compulsory religious dress codes are common in the Middle East (e.g. Iran, Saudi Arabia). Stiff penalties are implemented to women dressing inappropriately. I would be cautious to display female religious dress codes (that are brutally enforced in many countries) in any university promotion poster. We owe it (secularism) to the freedom seeking women who recently escaped Saudi Arabia and settled in Canada.