Comments for RETURN / العودة Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America - Vancouver, May 2013 Thu, 18 Apr 2013 04:54:50 +0000 hourly 1 Comment on Please Rescind Your Resolution to Ban SAIA by Alex Garcia Thu, 18 Apr 2013 04:54:50 +0000 As a student at the University of Winnipeg and a former member of Students Against Israeli Apartheid, I have been frustrated by the University of Winnipeg’s administrations attempts to make SAIA’s presence on campus more difficult than necessary; denying readily available University space, calling in heavy police presence for demonstrations, and hosting events made to dissuade students and community members from participating in our events. The administration reluctantly tolerated our presence on campus, knowing full well that denying us space could only be based on ideological grounds, as our group is based on the explicit premises of anti-racism, non-violence, and anti-oppression. Let me be clear, in order to function as SAIA, in order to be recognized as a member of SAIA, students MUST practice ANTI-racism (as in, we call it out when we see it happen, critique it, and DO NOT permit it within our ranks), non-violence (as a SAIA member for about two years I find it beyond the nature of anyone within the group to physically threaten or intimidate another student), and ANTI-oppression. The University of Winnipeg administration tolerates us, because as a student group, we represent part of the University body, just as zionist student groups do. Our purpose is to create a University environment where Israeli apartheid is recognized for what it is, a crime against humanity and the acts committed by the apartheid state as crimes of war. The administration tolerates us because AS STUDENTS, we not only strive to know more for ourselves, but share the knowledge that we learn with others, to create a better world. Ultimately, the administration tolerates us because we have an inalieable right to freedom of expression, and by extension freedom to political dissent. We acknowledge that other students feelings may be hurt when we call out the practices of “their” state for reasons that seem unreasonable to us. We do not expect to find allies in everyone. But neither do those students who set up their respective political groups, who may also alienate other students due to contradicting views.

It is in this light that UMSU’s recent revocation of student group status of SAIA is most troubling; that a student “union” would ever rescind the fundamental rights of some of their members due to difference in political opinion in a necessarily diverse political body is appalling. It is disgusting that any students would ever feel as though they have the right to deny other students the right to political expression, especially when no concrete evidence has been brought forth that said group actively promoted any violence, physical harm, or general ill-will to any other student on campus.

I hope that this letter is one more added to a massive list so that UMSU takes notice of how out of date they stand among their fellow students. In times of political crisis, and in the face of political oppression, it has fallen to university students to stand up for what is right. I hope UMSU makes the right choice and joins the rest of us soon.

Reinstate SAIA’s student group status. Join the call to BDS. End Israeli Apartheid. FREE PALESTINE.