Volume 92, Issue 56

Thursday, January, 1999

in the books


We do more than drink and party

Helping to save the environment

Correcting facts

There is no political mandate

There is no political mandate

Re: WICSA and Equity Week

To the Editor:

For the past month there has been much talk in regards to the situation between the Western Indo-Canadian Students' Association, Pakistani Students' Association and Equity Week. In order for one to assess the situation, it is important that they understand the situation from the side of WICSA.

Aside from being WICSA executives that represent a diverse group of origins, faiths and cultures, we too are members of this university who have a right to express our concerns. Our concern and only stance in this issue was that the PSA not display materials that we felt were biased and political in nature during Equity Week, a week to celebrate "Unity in Diversity." We did make a mistake by not attending the equity round table talks where this situation could have been discussed in detail.

Much has been made of our stance with regards to Nagib Shafiq, the equity commissioner. We feel that with an issue as big as Kashmir being presented during Equity Week, further steps to avoid confrontation could have been taken. However that is not to take anything away from him, as we do support him and feel that in what was a volatile situation he did handle himself in very professional and decent manner.

While The Gazette was quick to point out that we asked for his resignation based on what we knew the morning Equity Week started, we did rescind on that request and did apologize to Nagib that morning, something which was not stated by The Gazette.

With regards to Kashmir Day, we were asked and allowed by the PSA to view the material they were to present and confer any opinion we had which we gladly did. However, our request to them was that we would not censor any material, but ask that it not be presented in a religiously biased way and that it not be sensationalistic in nature. We were asked to view the video they had presented, however, we decided as an executive to allow for them to censor what they felt would be necessary as this was their day to make their stance.

I hope this quashes any doubt in the heads of certain individuals that we are anti-Muslim or anti-Pakistani, but rather all that we wanted was to have this material saved for Kashmir Day and not for Equity Week, where we feel it was improper.

As to any political standpoint that WICSA must take, it is asking to be unfair to our members. Need we remind anyone that we are a CULTURAL club and have NO political mandate and we are not the mouthpiece of the BJP government in India. Although, as executives, many of us had our political feelings with regards to the Kashmir situation, we do understand that a few of our members are of Pakistani origin and to take such a stance would be an injustice to those members.

If we were to take a political standpoint, that would signify that we would have to take a political standpoint for every faith or ethnic group represented in WICSA, which in turn would offend another group. We suggest that in the future people get their facts straight before making any judgments about a predicament and to feel free to come to the executives of WICSA about their problems.

We hope that everyone realizes and understands clearly our reasons for not bringing politics into the club. We are a cultural group trying to bring Indo-Canadians together and educate others around us about our wonderful culture.

Pras Chatterjee

Co-President, WICSA

Pam Litt

VP-social, WICSA

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Copyright The Gazette 1999