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Leaked screenshots reveal problematic comments made by Faculty of Arts representative candidate Jonathan Barazzutti 

By Daman Singh, Julieanne Acosta, March 7 2024—

Jonathan Barazzutti is a second-year economics student currently in the running for Faculty of Arts representative in the Students’ Union (SU) general election. Screenshots of concerning comments made by Barazzutti surfaced over university discord servers which led to him facing backlash and his campaign posters being vandalized during this election season. In an interview with the Gauntlet, he elaborated further on the rumours about him and the screenshots leaked below.

Barazzutti briefly addressed the screenshots and misconceptions on his platform page already emphasizing that the screenshots were taken out of context. 

“When I was making the initial statement, because, unfortunately, the screenshots which have been taken very much out of context, or been misrepresented by a wide number of people, were circling around, even when I ran for the by-election last fall. And so I’ve been very much aware of them and of course, I did say them myself so I was kind of aware of the general context,” said Barazzutti. 

In Barazzutti’s statement, he writes that he had a “civil half-hour long conversation” with one of the individuals vandalizing his posters, which — as Barazzutti explained — resulted in the individual realizing the allegations against him were false. 

“I’m the only candidate for Arts representative that had my posters ripped down and they’ve continuously been ripped down over and over again,” said Barazzutti. “I decided to approach them, relatively calm, say hey my name’s Jonathan and attempt to discuss with them a lot of this stuff. [The individual] essentially informed me that they’re taking down my posters on the basis of these false rumours, trying to ask me leading pointed questions like do I think Black people are inferior to white people and stuff like that, which I obviously do not believe.” 

The screenshots leaked were primarily from a “heated argument,” as Barazzutti puts it, from a discord server. When asked about a statement he made about Western civilization being better than Indigenous civilization, Barazzutti explained that he believes everyone should be able to critique other cultures.

“The discussions surrounding Indigenous culture were in a very heated argument in which I was saying things that were rather exaggerated because I was being repeatedly misrepresented over and over again,” said Barazzutti. “I think at the end of the day, you’re free to critique cultures. Many cultures have different strengths, maybe some shortcomings to them.” 

On a similar note, the Gauntlet asked Barazzutti to expand on his statement where he writes that a system similar to residential schools would have been beneficial minus the “rampant abuse” — even joking at the end by saying “I love residential schools.” 

“The thing that was discussed which I don’t necessarily agree with anymore, it was very much not residential schools whatsoever. [In the screenshot], someone suggested that it was and I sarcastically responded to that,” said Barazzutti. “The full context is essentially that I am very concerned with a lot of the issues that Indigenous people face, there’s the reality of poor water situations, very poor quality of life, very isolated, economically speaking. […] I think that a way to mend those resentments is to engage in a form of mutual aid between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities,” 

“It would never force anyone not to practice a culture, but there may be some level of cultural erosion that occurs,” he continued. 

In a clarifying question, the Gauntlet asked if we were correct in the assumption that he no longer agrees with the statement he made about residential schools to which he referred back to his idea of mutual aid. 

“So I think that a voluntary thing, a form of mutual aid, with Indigenous communities, can absolutely have positive effects on the quality of life and improve the equity situation with regard to Indigenous people. I understand that is the main advantage of it.” 

In a final attempt to clarify whether or not Barazzutti still agreed with his statement from the screenshot, Barazzutti provided the Gauntlet with the following response.

“I’m agnostic to the question.”

When asked about his statement where he compares being called a slur as “shitty” but being called racist can “ruin your representation,” Barazzutti explained that he was discussing the social consequences of the two. 

“I was speaking very specifically to the social consequences associated with those issues. Obviously, it is bad to call someone a slur. That’s obviously a very horrible thing. Sometimes it’s acceptable to call people racist. They’re calling someone out for very poor behaviour, obviously it’s acceptable. What I was saying very precisely was that the social consequences on the recipients of that are very different,” he said. 

While on the topic of slurs, Barazzutti was questioned about his use of the r-slur in an argument, he explained that he is reclaiming it as being part of the neurodivergent community. 

“I think that as a member of the neurodivergent community, I should be free to use those words within a private context within the context of making jokes or all that I think I should be free to do it”, he said. “It was me using it in an argument that was very heated already, which was repeatedly misrepresented. Was it reasonable for me to do that? Absolutely not. At the same time, though, I don’t think people can attack me necessarily for using the word itself in general”, Barazzutti continued.

In a follow-up, the Gauntlet asked if he believed using a slur in a heated argument was the same as reclaiming it as part of the community. Barazzutti then referred back to his statement of using it in a personal context. 

“Like I said, I do not agree with my usage of it, in that context. I think I should be free to use that word in my private time and with jokes between my friends. I don’t agree with me using within the argument I do not stand by that,” he said.

The Gauntlet asked Barazzutti to elaborate on his statements about transgender inclusions where he wrote that pro-trans people should “understand how significant changing your gender is to many people and shouldn’t simply reduce it to a circular linguistic label.” 

Barazutti provided the Gauntlet with the following response.

“I’ve met a number of trans people, I have a very large number of very close trans friends and often times throughout their entire lives, they felt very comfortable in their own body. I think that we have to recognize as people who are trying to support and uphold transgender people, transgender equality, all that, at the end we should uphold that recognition that this is a very significant thing,” Barazzutti said.

“I think that when we start trying to erode labels, like male versus female, I think that is very harmful to trans people who actually very much think those labels are valued. So I think that they should have some underlying meaning beyond simply just a man or a woman is anyone who identifies as one, I think that you can have definitions of male and female, that aren’t circular, where it’s just a label that you apply to yourself, without excluding transmen and transwomen from the categories through which they wish to and rightfully deserve to belong to,” he continued. 

In a final statement to the Gauntlet in regards to this matter, Barazutti apologized to students who were hurt by statements he made while making note that these were messages deliberately leaked in an attempt to hurt his campaign. 

“I apologize to students who were in fact hurt by the things I said. That being said, they are willfully misrepresented and I think that they are deliberately released against me for the purposes of character defamation as opposed to disagreeing with any underlying thing which was advocated for in the election,” he said.  

“All these screenshots are at least a year old, if not older, they’re held on to deliberately by actors who are trying to slander me and defame me. And I think that if you do or don’t want to vote for me, that’s perfectly fine but you should do on the basis of my policies and not on the basis of rumours that gets spread around on Discord group chats.” 

Voting is open and closes today at 4 p.m. Online voting will take place through the myUofC Student Centre in your student portal. In-person polling stations will be available at MacEwan Student Centre, Science Theatres, and TFDL. All University of Calgary undergraduate students registered in the Winter 2024 session are eligible to vote.

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