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Josh Morry

 
IAW HELD ON U OF M CAMPUS AFTERALL: TAKES PLACE IN NON-UMSU CONTROLLED SPACE

by Rhonda Spivak, March 27, 2014

The administration of the University of Manitoba allowed Israel Apartheid Week to take place on University of Manitoba campus in a location not controlled by the UMSU, (University of Manitoba Student Union) this past week. This is the case, notwithstanding that last year UMSU adopted a motion put forth by Josh Morry, that banned SIAW (Students Against Israel Apartheid) and IAW based which relied on UMSU Policy 2009. 
 

 

UMSU Policy 2009 states that “UMSU does not condone behaviour that is likely to undermine the dignity [or] self-esteem … of any of its members.” It further states that “UMSU is committed to an inclusive and respectful work and learning environment free from discrimination or harassment as prohibited in the Manitoba Human Rights Code (the “Code).” 

(Here is the full text of the UMSU resolution dealing with SAIA last year:   http://studentunion.ca/docs3/UMSU%20-%20Council%20meeting%20minutes%20-%20April%2011,%202013.pdf

 

UMSU adopted Morry's  argument that that by referring to Israel as an apartheid and racist state, SAIA essentially labeled Jews, (the vast majority of whom identify with the state as Zionists), as well as students who are Israeli on campus as “racists,” which is likely to undermine their dignity.  

 

John Danakas, director of the  University of Manitoba's marketing communications office, told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that "Through the conference and catering services of U of M we rent space to internal groups and groups external to the university"

 

According to Danakas, there was a clerical error and the Winnipeg Coalition against Israel Apartheid (WCIA), a group external to the University originally received permission to hold  IAW on the Fireside Lounge in the first floor of the  UMSU building.

 

"That was an error as the space is reserved for primarily student events," Danakas said. "So U of M requested that this group move to the fifth floor which is public, non UMSU controlled space."

 

However Liz Carlyle, co-chair of the WCIA told the Manitoban that she believed they were moved form the Fireside Lounge due to political pressure from UMSU . "We don't think the university had justfication or had the justification they said they did. We believe it was a political moved, not a simple administrative, procedural issue as it was portrayed.".”

 

The WCIA was also allowed to table in university centre, in an area that is a major thoroughfare, as this space is also not controlled by UMSU. 

 

UMSU President Al  Turnbull  told the Jewish Tribune that UMSU objected to what the University Administration did. "This was a way, in my  mind, of  a student group [SAIA]going around and ccircumventing our policies to get back into the space. Although it was not SAIA we all know they're under the same front."

 

According to the Jewsih Tribune, UMSU leadership met with David Barnard, president of the University of Manitoba and also wrote a letter "condemning his dscision [becasue] it directly undermined our decision-making process...as a student union." 

.”

 

Josh Morry criticized the University of Manitoba administration's decision in an email to the Winnipeg Jewish Review, calling on it to change its decision:

 

"UMSU has done its part by decertifying anti-Israel student groups that run IAW on campus. President David Barnard and the university administration, by failing to uphold their policies that protect students, have allowed anti-Israel groups to declare open season against Israel supporters on campus. It has allowed an unregulated group without a constitution to host Israel Apartheid Week in a public space, and that puts us all at risk. I sincerely hope for our sake that the university begins to enforce its own policies."

 

However, Danakas explained U of M's decision by saying, "University of Manitoba's responsibility as a public institution of higher learning is to protect academic freedom and freedom of speech and at the same time ensure a safe and respectful work and learning environment. University of Manitoba consulted with legal experts and equity experts. Refusing to rent space to an external group , which is space external groups normally could rent, might expose the University to charges of discrimination."

 

Danakas  added that "the University  in no way condones or supports the activities of this external group," adding  "I think it’s unfair to frame this issue (IAW) as one that the  University of Manitoba is directly engaged in."

Morry told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that the fact that University of Manitoba administration allowed IAW on space not controlled by UMSU came as asurprise to him.

 

Judy Zelikovitz, of The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) did not  criticize the Univeristy of Manitoba administration for allowing IAW in non-UMSU controlled space. She wrote in an email to  the WJR:

 "Based on our reading, the [ UMSU] resolution [dealing with SAIA last year] did not specifically ban IAW from occurring on campus, rather it removed SAIA’s student group status and banned it from operating in UMSU spaces. Whether SAIA may operate as a recognized student group (and may use student union space) is a distinct issue from whether events organized by other groups in other places on campus may occur during “Israeli Apartheid Week”.

 

Morry wrote "I'm confident the right decision will be made because the University of Manitoba is governed by the rule of the law and not by unilateral decisions of the president. One way or another the policies of the university will be applied correctly."

 

According to the Jewish Tribune B'nai Brith Canada sent a letter to the university

expressing in  which it called on President Barnard to reverse his decision.

 

According to an article in the Manitoban dated March 18, Liz Carlyle WCAIA co-chair and IAW organizer, said that "this year, WCAIA and SAIA did not encounter any serious attempts to block IAW activities."

 

Morry noted that UMSU had taken down a sign saying that an IAW event had moved from the Fireside Lounge to room 527 of UMSU since accor

 
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Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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