Bush faces new enemy: Canadian Federation of Students
By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos
A student lobby group which has decided to lend their support to protestors of the George Bush honorary degree at the University of Toronto may be contributing to a tight-hold on security.
The Canadian Federation of Students recently sent a letter to the university's president Robert Pritchard on behalf of its 40,000 members asking the school to reconsider its position saying it will bring disgrace.
Brad Lavinge, national chair for CFS, said there are a number of reasons the federation is in support of protestors, including Bush's alleged links with terrorist activities and support of dictators who have killed students during their reign.
"The student movement in this country has the obligation to oppose the granting of an honorary degree to Bush because of a larger international obligation," Lavinge said. "I can see no benefit to the university or to Canada."
Although Prichard was unavailable for comment, the director of the President's Office, Kasi Rao, said the governing council reviewed the letter at a Nov. 3 meeting and decided to re-confirm the offer to George Bush.
Rao said they were not offended by CFS' request and believes the federation is only expressing the view of university campuses being a centre for discussion which Rao agrees with.
Executive assistant for the Graduate Students' Union Ruth Perkins, said they appreciate the support and believe the letter is part of CFS' duties as a student association. "The honorary degree to George Bush is very embarrassing to the university and CFS shares this sentiment."
Hoops Harrison, national director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, said he does not believe anyone, including current politicians, should receive honorary degrees. Harrison said associations should stay out of decisions which are better left to the students and institutions.
But the letter was not the first protest against the Bush degree and could be contributing to a more controlled hold by administration over what students know about the controversy.
Meg Murphy, a writer for the U of T student paper, The Varsity, said requests made by the paper for a list of invites to the convocation involving George Bush and those attending Prichard's post-party ceremony were denied to them by administration.
"The administration has made an irrational link between The Varsity and student protestors," Murphy said. "This is an insult to protestors because they obviously won't go after individuals."
Rao, who denied the request for a guest list, said he sent a written explanation making it understood it has never been the general practice of the university to release a list of invites to any occasion.