Mideast conflict spills over into RyeSAC

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By Michael Traikos

RyeSAC’s vice-president of finance and services is refusing to apologize for sending an anti-Israel e-mail to board and executive staff members.

Sajjad Wasti said he’s been told repeatedly by RyeSAC president Darren Cooney to write a letter apologizing to those offended by the e-mail, which promotes boycotting companies that support Israel.

“I’ve been advised to send the apology, but I’m still thinking about it,” Wasti said.

The e-mail, sent on July 22 from Wasti’s personal e-mail account to the personal accounts of more than 20 people — some of whom hold positions on RyeSAC’s executive council — automatically opened up a link to an anti-Israeli website.

The site, titled Boycott Israel Campaign, lists companies, such as Coca-Cola and Nokia, which it claims “actively support the Zionist state … so that all people of conscience can make an ethical decision when purchasing.”

Sabahat-Bin-Sabih, a RyeSAC business faculty representative, was offended by the e-mail’s content and forwarded it to all board members and staff at RyeSAC, including Cooney.

In an e-mail sent to Cooney on Oct. 2, Sabih listen his concerns with Wasti’s original email.

“Due to the current tension in Middle-East, this type of e-mail could lead to wilder tension between two Ryerson student groups,” Sabih wrote. “This type of e-mail from a RyeSAC executive council could put the image of RyeSAC under scrutiny.”

Cooney immediately responded to Sabih, stating that the e-mail “was sent from a home account, not a work account. I have little to no jurisdiction in the personal lives of coworkers and thus, I am unsure how I can come to a resolution Sabahat will be happy with.”

Cooney also asked Ryerson’s discrimination and harassment prevention services for advice in handling the matter.

“In the land of discrimination and harassment, it can become an issue. We want to make sure RyeSAC executive doesn’t do this again,” said Cooney, who told Wasti to write an apology to all RyeSAC members last week.

At press time, Wasti had not sent an apology.

“Darren e-mailed and phoned me all day telling me to write an apology to the board. That’s why I’m not going to write the thing. Why are you forcing something on me that doesn’t require such action?”

Ken Marciniec, vice-president of education, also received the e-mails and believes Sabih’s complaints may stem from a past grudge with Wasti.

“I don’t know if it’s a beef or personal politics,” he said. “If it is a political thing, it’s an abuse of the political process.”

Wasti agrees.

“When you’re up there, people are going to throw stones at you,” said Wasti, who believes the conflict began last year, when both he and Sabih claimed to have founded the Pakistani Students’ Association.

Wasti said no one else was offended by the e-mail, which he likens to a “blonde joke.”

“It’s just another view of looking at the conflict. I sent it to those who have an appetite for those things. The intention wasn’t to offend people.”

Wasti said he is upset that Sabih didn’t come to him first if he had a problem with the e-mail.

“I would have apologized to him directly and asked him what was offensive so I didn’t send him [similar things] in the future.”

Sabih has also threatened to resign from RyeSAC’s board unless Cooney implements a policy where e-mails sent from home accounts state they are the personal opinions of the individual and not of the board.

“I took it pretty seriously,” said Sabih. “If they change the policy I will stay, if they don’t, I will not.”

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