How things go from here is now up to students, campaigners.
The count is in, and Concordia’s student body has voted to support the Boycott, Sanction, Divest (BDS) movement against Israel. Final count: 1276 Yes votes, 1067 No votes, and 237 abstentions or spoiled ballots.
Javier I. Hoyos, Chairperson of the Yes Committee, broke the news to an exuberant group waiting on the threshold to the Concordia Student Union (CSU) office, where the tally was carried out.
“[I feel] speechless. I can’t believe it,” he said, saying he felt his side at a disadvantage with the last-minute question change. He said he was surprised the final tally showed a large number of Yes votes coming from John Molson—the centre of the No campaign.
There still exists the possibility of challenging the results. Shelly Kubik, Chairperson of the No campaign, wouldn’t confirm this would occur and simply said her team was studying the options available to them.
Hoyos said that if there is a challenge of the results his team’s report allegedly containing examples of numerous campaign violations by the No side could be utilized, assuming his committee decides on doing so.
Though the report is still private, CSU CEO Andre-Marcel Baril confirmed a $150 fine had been leveled against the No side for violations. Until Baril’s own report on the matter comes out, what those violations were won’t be available to the public either.
Hoyos cautioned that although the Yes side has won, the implementation is ultimately up the university administration. For now a committee open to the public will be formed on how to proceed and mold the BDS movement, which calls for economic, academic, and cultural sanctions against Israel for is alleged violations of human rights in Palestine, in a Concordian context.
“This is in order to show BDS is not arbitrary. We cannot jut ban any product, cut ties with any institution. We need to prove there is empirical evidence showing institutions and certain products are complicit in the occupation of Palestinian territories. Whatever decision we take will have to be accepted by the CSU, and be backed up by research.” Hoyos hopes to have this research take the first half of the year, with implementation beginning in the next fall semester. “Being arbitrary would be the worst thing we could do not.”
Kubik’s team will definitely be challenging the CEO’s fine. “Absolutely. The accusations are completely absurd.” She used the example of chalk note on a blackboard saying “Vote no to BDS” to the tenuous nature of the charges. No evidence exists showing who did it. “It could have been anybody who wrote that. As far as we’re concerned, it could have been anyone.”
Whatever happens from here on out, her campaigners will continue their efforts.
“We’re the people who have to lead. Will we be involved? For sure, we’re not going anywhere. We will make sure all of the students are treated fairly. That was what the campaign ran on and feeling comfortable and being singled out, which is what BDS does and will do.