(By: Sherina Harris)
Is anti-Semitism on the rise on Ryerson’s campus?
After the events of last night’s RSU’s semi annual general meeting, some students certainly think so.
As the Eyeopener previously reported, a motion regarding a Holocaust Education Week was proposed and later amended to focus on all genocide, not just the Holocaust. Students from Ryerson’s Justice in Palestine and Muslim Students Association groups walked out of the meeting.
Although this was, in part, a result of the length of the event — it took almost four hours to discuss three motions — quorum was lost, and the vote didn’t go through. Some saw this as an anti-Semitic act.
“It is deeply disturbing to see students engage in such blatant anti-Semitism,” said Hillel Ontario in a press release condemning the event posted last night to their website. The student who submitted the motion was a member of Hillel Ryerson.
“While we recognize that this hateful act reflects a fringe group of students, its negative impact on the Jewish campus community cannot be ignored,” the press release continued.
This event, coming on the heels of a Nov. 28 rally against actions taken by Ryerson’s School of Social Work, has led many to question Ryerson’s commitment to social justice.
“For a school that claims to be so invested in anti-racism and social justice, this action by a group of self-proclaimed social justice activists is all the more appalling. Do human rights and social justice apply to all expect Jews?” Alexandra Markus asked in a post on the website Israellycool.
“I have never been more disgraced to be a student at Ryerson University,” wrote Tamar Jaclyn Lyons, the vice president of communications at Ryerson’s Students Supporting Israel group, in a Facebook post published this morning.
Lyons spoke in favour of the motion at the RSU event, according to an article she published today on StandWithUs.com, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating people about Israel.
“How is this social justice?” she wrote. “NOTHING is more inclusive than history. History has proven repeatedly to be cyclical. By raising awareness of the holocaust we wanted to make sure that as a race no one should ever suffer the way we did.”
The students who walked out of the meeting “walked out on history,” Lyons said in her post.
“They turned their back on social justice. They turned their back on equity. They showed us tonight, that they only stand against ‘some’ forms of oppression. They showed me that their definition of anti-Semitism is non existent, because to them, it is irrelevant and doesn’t exist.”
Lyons said she is calling on the RSU to call out the actions which occurred during their meeting.
The RSU released a statement on Facebook saying that “Motions of this nature can invoke many views” and thanking their chair and anti-harassment officer for their support during the meeting.
The Union encouraged students to contact RSU Directors to share their opinions, and said that they “Strive to create a space where students feel comfortable to come forward to discuss important issues and ideas.”
The Holocaust Education Week motion will be tabled at the RSU’s next board meeting, according to their statement.