RSU members say no to limiting political stances

Ryerson students seem to not care about campus politics. This year’s Ryerson Students’ Union election had an 11 per cent voter turnout rate, and it’s not unusual for meetings to not make quorum.

But last Wednesday, a motion put forward not only got students to show up to the spring annual general meeting, but also to heatedly debate the topic.

Eitan Gilboord, who is also the president of Ryerson’s Israeli Students’ Association, put forward a motion that fired up tensions in the meeting.

The motion, titled “Refraining from Political Issues,” attempted to restrict the RSU from taking sides on “polarizing foreign policy issues in order to prevent the possibility (of) intimidating students on either side of these issues and escalating tension between the polarized communities.”

Although the motion didn’t contain any mention about Israel or Palestine, some students believe it was put forward to prevent the RSU from supporting a boycott Israel campaign.

The motion was denied.

“A lot of foreign policy issues involve an oppressor and an oppressed, it’s completely immoral to support a motion that favours the oppressor,” said one student at the mike, who was opposed to the motion.

Mohammad Horreya, the president of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Ryerson, called Gilboord’s involvement with the Israeli Students’ Association “suspicious.”

“Off the bat we knew this was an issue of Palestine versus Israel,” says Horreya.

But Gilboord denies that his motion had something to do with the conflict.

“If you’re a student union, you should be promoting peace (and) not taking sides in conflicts,” he said. “Of course it touches on the issue, but it’s not what it’s about.”

He says that being the president of the Israeli Students’ Association shouldn’t be a reason to believe the motion was solely about the Israel and Palestine conflict.

“I’m also president of campus Conservatives, a fourth-year politics and governance representative,” he says. “I also enjoy skateboarding and basketball and other fine activities.”

Gilboord also notes that students are funding the RSU’s political opinions, which is something that they could disagree with, or feel discriminated by.

Last month, the York Federation of Students at York University voted in favour of a motion that would have the effect of boycotting Israeli academics.

Jewish students responded by saying the student union was discriminatory.

Gilboord says his motion wasn’t a reaction to what happened at York. However, if passed, it would have prevented the RSU from taking the same action.

Horreya said, though, that he hopes a similar motion will happen eventually on Ryerson’s campus.


This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on April 10, 2013.

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