Motion to hold referendum to impeach Queen’s rector passes
Alanna Wallace — CUP Ontario Bureau Chief
WATERLOO, Ont. (CUP) — Nick Day’s job may be on the line after an article he wrote supporting Israeli Apartheid Week was published yesterday on Rabble.ca.
At a March 10 meeting of Queen’s University’s students’ society, a unanimous vote was passed to hold a referendum that will ask students to decide whether Day will continue to hold his position as rector.
Approximately 350 people were in attendance at the meeting, including Craig Draeger of Queen’s Campus Conservatives, who presented a petition with 2,200 signatures calling for Day’s impeachment.
According to the Queen’s Journal, the question at the special winter referendum will read: “Shall it be recommended to the university council that Queen’s rector Nick Day be removed from the office of rector? Yes or no?”
A position unique to Queen’s, the rector is an elected official, usually a student, who represents undergraduate and graduate students to the administration and advocates matters pertaining to education. The rector also sits on the Queen’s board of trustees and senate.
Day’s article was an open letter in response to Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff’s statement calling Israeli Apartheid Week unethical. In the article, Day defends IAW, saying Israel is committing genocide in Palestine and accusing Ignatieff of being “an active and powerful accomplice in a human rights tragedy.”
Day signed the letter as a representative of the university, a detail that’s causing much outrage on campus.
“My problem is that he was speaking on behalf of his constituents when he did not have any basis to do so,” said Jake Roth, a first-year student at Queen’s who created the Facebook group “Remove Nick Day as Queen’s Rector,” one of the many Facebook groups that have been created in the wake of the events.
In an official statement earlier today, Queen’s principal Daniel Woolf said he had spoken to Day personally and the university is considering Day’s actions “inappropriate.”
“The views in the letter are not the issue – agree or disagree, he is entitled to them – it’s the context in which he communicated his personal opinion,” Woolf wrote. “Mr. Day’s views do not and should not be seen as being representative of those of the university or Queen’s students.”
“I hope to have Mr. Day removed from his position,” said Roth. “Not because of anything against him personally or politically, but because I think he’s using his authority inappropriately.”
Maddie Axelrod, an executive of Queen’s Israel on Campus group, agreed with Roth, saying she wouldn’t be advocating for Day’s removal if he had not included his title at the university at the end of his response to Ignatieff.
“He signed his name as ‘rector’ to these opinions and in that way spoke for everyone including those who don’t necessarily hold those views,” argued Axelrod.
This is not the first incident involving Day’s perceived politicization of events. Last November, theQueen’s Journal reported that Day was censured by the students’ society for “using his position to speak personal views that don’t represent his constituency” during his Remembrance Day address.
Ottawa students stage sit-in to protest election disqualification
Jane Lytvynenko — The Fulcrum (University of Ottawa)
OTTAWA (CUP) — A group of University of Ottawa students staged a sit-in at the school’s student federation office earlier this week to protest the recent disqualification of incoming vice-president of finance Tristan Dénommée.
Using kegs as drum kits and chanting to the sounds of a siren, the students crowded into the office at approximately 11:30 a.m. on March 7.
“They just told us they were sitting down and going to chill at the office … and the next thing I know they’ve taken my couch out of my office and were using it to barricade [the door],” said Alex Chaput, the union’s current vice-president social.
“It’s a shame it has to come to this … in my opinion, they’re defending what’s right versus what’s wrong.”
Alexis Goudreau, Dénommée’s former campaign manager, organized the protest in response to the decision of an emergency board of administrators meeting that occurred the day before.
The board rejected Dénommée’s appeals and finalized his disqualification from the position of vice-president of finance, putting his opponent Sarah Jayne King into office for the 2011–12 academic year.
Dénommée was originally disqualified a week prior based on accusations of publishing false statements in relation to the personal character or conduct of a candidate, putting up posters in unauthorized locations, and for failure to comply with minor and major penalties.
Content courtesy of the Canadian University Press.
Photo: Chelsea Pottage