On a walk around campus all the candidates’ printed faces can be seen smiling from the walls. Posters stating the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) positions each person hopes to be elected to are there for all of Ryerson to read — or ignore.
Unite Ryerson’s posters include “together we will” and “together we have” lists, each with a few points.
One of them caught my eye — and not for a good reason.
In February 2010, Ontario MPPs unanimously voted to condemn Israeli Apartheid Week. One of the MPPs, Peter Shurman, who represents Thornhill, Ont., even stated that it bordered on hate speech. Yet RSU presidential candidate Pascale Diverlus lists it as one of her three main platforms on posters all over campus.
Her Unite Ryerson candidate poster lists three things she claims she will do. The last point next to her smiling face, reads: “Host a series of events and workshops for Israeli Apartheid Week.”
- RSU hosts first pro-Palestine movement Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS)
- RSU meeting on Israel sends meeting into chaos
- Student groups ramp-up advocacy in light of Israel-Palestine conflict
This proposed Unite Ryerson event is anti-Israel. It is intended to inform students about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to further the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement that was already passed by the RSU last April.
Not everyone may look at this the way I do. However, in my view, Israel is anything but segregating. It’s a country that allows anyone to live in its borders, no matter their religion, race or sexuality. That is uncommon for many countries in the Middle East.
This type of inclusive community is what I would hope and expect from my campus. After all, Ryerson is located in the core of downtown Toronto — a city known for its multiculturalism and acceptance.
The people who make up the RSU are supposed to be a group of receptive individuals who make everyone on campus feel safe and welcomed. I don’t think a plan such as this would achieve anything close to that.
It has the ability to turn student against student and create an apartheid-like society within Ryerson. Quite opposite to the ideals behind their slogans and their name.
Israeli Apartheid Week is a political issue, one that a nation deals with. Why is it any concern of the RSU? Diverlus should focus on issues like the safety of our campus, tuition fees and keeping the campus a welcoming community.
When someone looks for information at Ryerson these are the issues they should see the school council focusing on. Not political issues that could cause division.
If Unite Ryerson chooses to advocate Israeli Apartheid Week, they should change their name or create a club, because this is an issue that will not unite Ryerson.
This story also appeared in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on Feb 4, 2015.