Students’ union accused of violating human rights code

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Hillel @ Ryerson, the school’s Jewish Students’ Association is concerned that Jewish voices will be silenced on campus issues if the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) holds its annual general meeting on March 31.

Currently, the meeting coincides with Passover, a Jewish holiday.

“Passover is one of those fundamental keys of the religion that every single Jew celebrates, no matter how religious, no matter how secular. That’s how important it is,” said Maiya Keidan, president of Hillel @ Ryerson.

The annual general meeting, which allows full-time students to vote about any changes to the RSU, is a situation where every vote counts, said Adam Solomon, who does marketing and promotions for Hillel @ Ryerson. Solomon said he learned of the scheduling conflict on March 8 and spoke to RSU president Jermaine Bagnall. He also sent an email.

In reply, Solomon said, he was informed that since the AGM was advertised to take place on a certain date, it would not be changed.

“It’s really important because every voice matters… and by having it on Passover it’s really just silencing a bunch of Jewish students,” he said.

Bagnall was unavailable for comment.

Solomon said that failing to reschedule the meeting discriminates against Jewish students under the Ontario Human Rights Code because it would impede their ability to vote or voice opinions.

The code says protection against religious discrimination applies to unions.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s website states “where a rule conflicts with religious requirements, there is a duty to ensure that individuals are able to observe their religion, unless this would cause undue hardship because of cost, or health and safety reasons.”

If the meeting proceeds on March 31, Solomon said they plan to approach Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services.

Keidan said that as a representative of a diverse Jewish group, she will not attend the meeting on March 31.

“I won’t be choosing because it’s not a choice. What I am sad for is that they put people in that position,” she said.

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