USC removes 'unequal' SAQD display

James Arthurs says both sides of the MSM debate should have been equally represented.

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

When science councillor and campus safety commissioner Melanie Tinney saw the display board on Canadian Blood Services’ MSM policy issue, she thought that it was fairly unbiased.

She asked the student activist group, Standing Against Queer Discrimination, to create a board to display for Health and Safety week.

Joshua Ferguson, co-activist director of SAQD, said they had “focused on the facts of the issue.

“We decided not to include anything about what we think people should do about [the issue], for example banning CBS for Western,” Ferguson explained.

But yesterday, when he went to check out the display in the University Community Centre Atrium, Ferguson was shocked to see his group’s board had been removed and was lying on the floor behind the table.

Health and Safety week falls under the portfolio of James Arthurs, VP-campus issues for the University Students’ Council. He approached Tinney when he saw the board.

“I asked her to put up something expressing both sides,” Arthurs explained.

Tinney said, “I thought that the information being presented adequately explained the problem.” She decided to remove the display when Arthurs said he felt the board accused Health Canada of discrimination.

“I know that SAQD was trying to hone their display to a point that was not drastic,” Arthurs said. But he felt it was important for both sides of the issue to be represented equally.

The decision seemed unjust to Ferguson, “How is it fair that we are the only display, out of all the displays, that needs to have both sides of the issue present?”

He’s frustrated with the lack of support SAQD has received from the USC.

“We’ve received limited to almost no support from the USC and this latest decision has reaffirmed that they are not ready to support this issue on campus at all,” Ferguson added.

Arthurs said he did not mean to upset SAQD.

“I was trying to make sure that both opinions " although one more vocal than the other " were heard.”

Ferguson said the USC has neglected its role as a support system for students in favour of administration’s approval.

“It’s problematic because they’re supposed to be supporting the students of the university, not the administration.”

Arthurs insisted that was not his intention.

“All we’re doing is pragmatically voicing the students’ opinions in an equal way and administration just happens to agree with that.

“If the situation was reversed, I would have done the exact same thing,” he added.

SAQD is planning a protest in Victoria Park this Thursday in light of recent events concerning Health Canada.

Arthurs said the USC will continue to lobby Health Canada, where the problem is rooted.

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