Petition brought forward and students will vote at by-elections this winter
On Friday, Oct. 17, a meeting held by the CSU confirmed that a petition concerning a referendum on Concordia’s stance on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS) can now be brought to students’ attention.
The movement is seeking to increase international pressure on Israel, both politically and economically. According the bdsmovement.org, “The signatories to this call represent the three major components of the Palestinian people: the refugees in exile, Palestinians under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the discriminated Palestinian citizens of the Israeli state.”
Three Concordians brought forward their desire to distribute this petition, one of whom is CSU Councillor Rami Yahia.
According to Benjamin Prunty, CSU president, the meeting which was held last week was just a formality, as any group of three people or more have the right to collect signatures for a petition.
“The right to petition and ask for a referendum on a given topic is the right of all our members, but they have to come before council prior to circulating the petition,” Prunty said.
He said that the meeting only lasted 15 minutes, “which is indicative of the CSU’s desire to allow the membership to have this sensitive conversation amongst themselves. We will, of course, respect the result of any referendum as the will of our membership trumps the desire of the elected representatives,” Prunty said.
The meeting was held at 6 p.m. on a Friday. Israel on Campus: Concordia University expressed in a statement their discontentment with the fact that this meeting was held on the day of Simchat Torah, a Jewish holiday, as well as after sundown, when Sabbath begins.
“I would like to express regret that we held a meeting on a Jewish holiday, and hope that our Jewish community members, which we will of course continue to support in the same way that we support any of our other community members, regardless of the outcome of this referendum, understand that it was not our intention to take a position on an issue during a period in which the Jewish community is sacredly unavailable,” Prunty said.
He also noted that the meeting was purely a formality, and it was not intended for an official stance to be taken on the spot at this meeting. He also said that, should anyone wish to speak to him on the subject, that his door is open during office hours — from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays at the CSU’s downtown office, located in H-711.
At a CSU special council meeting which took place on July 23, the CSU agreed that they were, “against the disproportionate use of force, the use of chemical weapons, the illegal settlements in Palestine and the blockade on Gaza all caused by the state of Israel.”
“The position of the CSU […] is to stand against the illegal occupation in Palestine and the question suggests a tactic for the CSU to endorse alongside our current position,” Prunty said.
Now that the petition has been approved, it will be possible for the students involved to start collecting signatures. For the question to be put on the ballot at by-elections, 500 signatures will be needed. Although the official question has not yet been decided, it will ask for the support of the BDS movement from Concordians.