By Sierra Bein
The Ontario branch of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) passed a motion at its annual general meeting last week to boycott Israel after the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) presented it as an emergency motion.
The CFS-O represents 300,000 Ontario students in colleges and universities including Ryerson, York University and the University of Toronto.
RSU President Rajean Hoilett, brought forth the motion to take part in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign last weekend during the meeting that lasted from Aug. 14 to Aug. 17.
“Members voted overwhelmingly in favour for the students’ union to endorse the call for BDS and commit to lobbying the university to divest and cut ties with companies or institutions that support or profit off of Israeli occupation,” Hoilett said.
The RSU believes that it is important for this motion to go further than just its home campus, according to Hoilett.
“It’s important to encourage other student unions at other universities to do that work on their campus, we are stronger when we are united,” he said.
Although the BDS campaign is part of the RSU mandate this year, this motion proposed to the CFS-O was specifically in response to the new military campaign in Gaza.
“Many of our university and college institutions remain complicit in the occupation and Israeli war crimes through investments and ties with companies that support or profit off the occupation but also that help to support the occupation,” he said.
Hoilett also said that “Ryerson remains complicit in Israeli war crimes” through investsments with companies that support or profit off of the ongoing occupation.
Hoilett did not specify which companies or investments are involved.
Last April at the RSU’s annual general meeting, the motion to boycott Israel was met with protests and backlash among students at the meeting.
After the motion was passed, some students ripped up their voting cards claiming that by showing support for the campaign the RSU was being biased and dividing students on campus.
The meeting could not go forward due to the amount of students that walked out after the motion was passed.
The conflict escalated in July when the Israeli military launched a campaign in Gaza in response to rockets fired by Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip.
Hoilett said the RSU will be organizing various events and workshops about the Gaza conflict as part of the mandate for its upcoming term, including panels to engage students in conversation and educate students about the conflict.