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News Briefs

SSMU Council endorses Yes vote on Daily survival

SSMU councillors unanimously approved a motion endorsing the Daily Publications Society (DPS) in its upcoming referendum at a meeting Thursday that included a cameo from Principal Heather Munroe-Blum.

VP External Affairs Max Silverman introduced the motion asking SSMU Council to endorse the DPS and vote “yes” in its upcoming existence referendum, saying that student unions and media should show mutual support for each other.

“If SSMU’s existence were forced to go to referenda by the administration, we would like to hope that the newspapers would support the existence of democratic institutions in the same way that our obligation is to support the media,” he said.

Before the motion, councillors questioned the principal on gender neutrality within the administration and accessible tuition, among many other issues. Thursday was her first visit to Council since 2005.

VP Clubs & Services Marcelle Kosman described her personal experiences of receiving treatment from certain professors and administrators that was “fundamentally different” from that of male equivalents, and asked for comment from Munroe-Blum.

The principal responded that that is not something that she has personally observed.

“I am principal, so what I see is what I get,” Munroe-Blum said. “I think we have a lot of room to engage more with what I see as a conscious raising of sensitivity.”

Arts representative and candidate for SSMU VP External Devin Alfaro questioned Munroe-Blum’s opinion of a reasonable level of tuition.

“What we’re proposing is that we go with the average in Canada on a multi year basis. [It would give] the University a huge leg up over where we are now,” she said

Munroe-Blum had to depart before responding to all students’ questions, but expressed her desire to continue a dialogue with students on campus and to meet with Council in the fall and winter terms of the next academic year.

Later at the meeting, Clubs & Services Representative Dave Schecter asked VP Finance & Operations Imad Barake to release the names of the organizations bidding for room 103, the space currently occupied by CaféRama.

Barake initially refused to release the names of the organizations bidding to use the space, but after Shecter’s prodding, he revealed the names of – but no other information on – the seven bidders. Three student groups have applied for the space: Midnight Kitchen, Sustainability Café, and Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship McGill.

* – Will Vanderbilt*

Accommodate This! anti-racist workshops coming

In response to the Bouchard-Taylor Commission’s Reasonable Accommodation hearings, the Accommodate This! campaign is organizing a series of anti-racist workshops, discussions, and events at various locations around Montreal this week.

The workshops, running March 10, 15 and 16, are intended to provide a forum where individuals can learn and discuss the problems faced by Quebec’s minority communities, including immigration laws, exploitation at work, poverty, and racial profiling.

“The only reason this debate is being held at this time and in this form is because of racist and sexist fear, fear that becomes absorbed into a rhetoric of national identity,” said Emilie Connolly, a U3 Cultural Studies student and an Accommodate This! organizer.

Connolly also faulted the reasonable accommodation policy for ignoring Quebec’s history as a former colony, where the only truly indigenous members of society are among the most disadvantaged.

She argued that reasonable accommodation splits Quebec society in two, with Western culture on one side, and all other cultures on the other.

“For this reason, I feel the workshops ought to be attended by everyone – we have all been exposed to the sexism and racism entrenched in the discourse of reasonable accommodation, and thus we all need to confront it, especially on different grounds,” Connolly said.

In late January, the town of Herouxville created a code of conduct for immigrants to follow. Early the next month, Quebec Premier Jean Charest devised the Bouchard-Taylor Commission.

The commission’s mandate was to travel throughout the province, administering a series of surveys. The surveys were meant to determine if changes need to be made to Quebec’s policy of acknowledging the rights of minority groups, termed ‘reasonable accommodation.’

In anticipation of the May 31 release of the commission’s report, which will discuss the results of its surveys, Accommodate This! will release a counter-report, examining what the group believes are the most pertinent social issues in Quebec.

The counter-report will be released at 6 p.m. on March 20 at l’Alizé and will feature a performance by Kalmunity Vibe Collective. among other artists.

More information on the workshops or the counter-report is available at the No One Is Illegal Montreal blog,

* – Emily Gennis *

PGSS heads to the polls

In a more spirited contest than in previous years, the Post Graduate Student Society (PGSS) elections will feature two contested races for the positions of President and VP External.

Two current PGSS VPs – John Ashley Burgoyne Roland Nassim – will face off for the society’s top job, while Adrian Kaats and Melanee Thomas vie for the post of VP External & Governmental Affairs. Alex DeGuise is the sole candidate for VP Academic, while Eric Pollanen runs unopposed for VP Finance. The position of VP Internal remains without a candidate. Debates will be held on March 12, and polls will be open from March 13 to 25.

* – Gregory Ko*

Universities struggle to combat racism

In light of increasing concerns over racism on several university campuses, a student group at Brock University is hoping to raise awareness and promote equality.

Stumanity, a student group focused on humanitarian issues, hosted Rac-E-ducation on February 25 to discuss racial discrimination without passing judgment, blame or feelings of guilt.

“People want to look past racial issues. We can’t ignore the problem and expect it to go away,” said Ismael Traore, Stumanity president.

According to Traore, Brock University’s administration feels that issues of racism are the responsibility of students.

The event at Brock coincides with an incident at Ryerson University, in which approximately 30 students protested the vandalism of a bulletin board outside the East African Students of Toronto office, which had been lit on fire. Racist graffiti was also found across the door of the York University Black Students’ Alliance.

In South Africa, a student-made film showed black employees of the University of the Free State being tricked into eating food that had been desecrated with urine. The video was allegedly made in protest of the university’s recent attempts to introduce more racial integration.

“One of the biggest misconceptions [about racism] is that it doesn’t exist anymore,” said Jeremiah Kalyniak, a Carleton University student activist.

* – Timothy Williams (CUP)*