November 25, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 48  

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Justified interference

The University of Toronto’s last minute decision on Friday to cancel the Toronto Palestinian Solidarity Conference planned by Al-Awda, the Palestinian Right to Return Coalition at U of T, has ruffled a few feathers to say the least.

The group had booked a room which was open to any student willing to attend. However, the reservation — and thus the event — were cancelled when the group refused the administration’s ultimatum.

Administration discovered a document entitled the “Basis of Unity” which required each attendee to agree with certain beliefs before participating and made Al-Awda’s reservation contingent upon not using the document. When the group refused, the rally was shut down.

The six-point document stated the undersigned supported the Palestinian Right to Return as non-negotiable, called a two state solution neither viable nor acceptable and declared Israel a racist, apartheid state.

Before getting up in arms and protesting this as the denial of free speech, Al-Awda should review this “conference” and attempt to distinguish the function from what it appeared to be: a rally.

Your right to free speech? Please. For once a university administration’s decision to interfere in the lives of students was justified, as the entire notion of academic useful debate is completely undercut by exclusive events like this one.

University Students’ Council-sanctioned clubs at Western are non-exclusionary, and Al-Awda claimed this event too was open to all. However, the Basis ensured that only people who held the same beliefs would be included to further the group’s cause.

Furthermore, the club event is still subject to community standards and events based on a premise like the “Basis of Unity” Al-Awda provided can very easily incite hate speech. Excluding the more moderate or dissenting voices, Al-Awda shot its own cause in the foot and any pretense of furthering free speech through this event with it.

Clubs exist on campuses to promote unity among all students and preserve a diversity of viewpoints and this event, as U of T’s administration correctly decided, did nothing to promote either goal.

This is not unjust censorship; in fact, free speech was upheld and Al-Awda has no one to blame but themselves.

Yay team!

Congratulations should go out to a deserving Western cheerleading team for their 19th straight national title.

What’s most impressive about the victory is that the cheerleaders won in spite of the streak and not because of it. It would have been easy for the team to have gone in overconfident, as they came up against some strong competition. Yet like professionals, the Mustang squad went in and got the job done.

Good luck in the United States guys and girls.



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