'Admin must stand up to discrimination'

Students protest Canadian Blood Services' MSM policy, ask students to sign petition

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Protesting by laying 'dead' on ground

Jonas Hrebeniuk

STUDENTS STAGE A DIE-IN. Members of Standing Against Queer Discrimination protested outside a Canadian Blood Services' blood donor clinic against CBS' men who have sex with men policy yesterday.

Donating blood on campus yesterday was more difficult than usual, as it meant passing through a mock graveyard of student bodies.

Students protesting against Canadian Blood Services’ men who have had sex with men (MSM) policy stood in front of the blood donor clinic in the University Community Centre.

“We come on campus everyday and we’re uncomfortable,” Joshua Ferguson, co-activist director of Standing Against Queer Discrimination, yelled at the protest yesterday.

“We’re here today because of the infosession they had on Friday where they banned the media,” Ferguson explained.

“The University administration has to stand up to explicit discrimination on campus.”

Ferguson and other members of SAQD held signs while others lay on the ground with fake tombstones at their feet.

Craig Ashbourne, a member of SAQD, explained these people represented those who have died because of discrimination.

“That’s probably not the most effective way to move the issue forward,” countered Cindy Graham, regional communication manager for CBS Southern Ontario.

Interviewing a protester

SAQD asked passersby to sign a petition asking Western’s administration to “acknowledge Canadian Blood Services’ MSM policy as discriminatory ... by requiring that Canadian Blood Services cease operations on campus until they alter their policy based on risky behaviour, rather than sexual orientation.”

Stephen Nelles, a sixth-year philosophy student, stopped to listen. “I agree that there is homophobia in our society ... however, I think the CBS policy is practical and useful. I’m here to gain information,” he said.

Amy Bi, communications officer for the University Students’ Council and James Arthurs, VP-campus issues for the USC, were both present.

Bi responded to Ferguson’s comments, “We’re hear to listen to all students’ voices ... our doors are always open to listen to students.”

But Ferguson wasn’t satisfied.

“Stop the robotic reiteration of stuff you prepared earlier.”

He said this was the first time the USC responded to their complaints.

David Simmonds, VP-university affairs for the USC, had spoken with Western administration in regards to student complaints and Bi said conversations were likely to continue, since it was evidently an important issue on campus.

“We’re more than willing to voice these concerns to administration,” Bi insisted.

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