Are SAQD's demands to CBS unreasonable?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Re: “SAQD going over the top”
Nov. 14, 2007

Dear Editor:
Apparently The Gazette’s editorial staff feels discrimination and bigotry are best combated by patience and reason. If the writers had ever experienced discrimination themselves, they might feel differently.

Reason and patience do indeed have an important place in any campaign against discrimination, yet they rarely succeed as solo tactics.

It wasn’t reason alone that got women the vote " it also took women marching in the streets and chaining themselves to the railings outside Parliament, actions that seemed radical at the time, just as The Gazette thinks is the case with the Students Against Queer Discrimination die-in outside Student Health Services on Tuesday.

SAQD is not asking Canadian Blood Services to eliminate its deferral policy entirely. It is merely requesting that it be brought into the 21st century by asking people about risky sexual behaviour within reasonable time frames, instead of making assumptions about people’s sexual lives on the basis of their orientations.

Instead of supporting SAQD’s demand to end discriminatory practices, The Gazette calls for more research and more statistics. Yet these already exist.

Indeed, had The Gazette’s previous article on this subject bothered to mention there were also faculty present at the so-called “information session” by CBS, it might also have been able to report on the information provided by the epidemiologists in the audience.

When epidemiologists from Western and the University of Toronto say there is already good statistical evidence the CBS policy could be made less discriminatory without compromising the safety of the blood supply, it is both futile and condescending to keep repeating the “more research” argument. How much research would be enough?

If we succumb to a logic insisting that ending discimination can always be deferred for the sake of “more research,” it doesn’t say very much for our commitment as a university community " or, indeed, as a nation " to the idea of an inclusive and egalitarian society.
"Wendy Pearson
Assistant Professor
Film Studies

Re: “MSM activists aren’t being silenced”
Nov. 14, 2007

To the editor:
If Matthew Prime had listened to the presentation and subsequent comments at last week’s information session, and not just the last 20 seconds of the evening, he would have heard by Canadian Blood Services’ own admission that the policy barring gay men from donating blood is out of date and needs to be changed.

What’s more, he would also have heard from an AIDS researcher and one of Western’s own epidemiologists that the move to behaviour-based questioning rather than profiling questions would improve the safety of the blood supply.

Ultimately, such profiling techniques have no place, be it in screening blood donors or airplane passengers. Not only do they fail to serve the public interest to improve safety, but they also perpetuate negative attitudes toward the targeted groups.

To that end, the frustration of groups like SAQD is understandable, even if we may not agree with all the ways in which they express it. What we hopefully can agree on, however, is people ought to be judged on their choices and actions in life, not on attributes such as gender, skin colour and sexuality.
"Arzie Chant
USC Equity Commissioner 2002-2003
USC Pride Resources Commissioner 2004-2005

Re: “SAQD going over the top”
Nov. 14, 2007

To the editor:
I am very disappointed with the way SAQD is handling this situation. Canadian Blood Services is on campus to promote the donation of blood to save lives, not the oppression of Western’s homosexual population.

The policy is there for a simple reason: there is elevated risk of disease associated with male-to-male sex. There is not enough research in this area at this time to change this policy, as it is about the safety of others, not about the desire of people to donate blood.

There are no questions on the questionnaire asking about the donor’s sexual orientation, just about male-to-male sex. There are a number of questions on the questionnaire asking about risky sexual behaviour of the straight population as well.

If the homosexual population wants to help CBS, donate your time at a blood clinic or help researchers find proof homosexual behaviour does not pose a risk in donating blood. CBS has already expressed it would change the policy if research proved the blood wasn’t any more risky than anyone else’s.

Help your cause in a more productive way, not by trying to get CBS kicked off campus. There would be fewer donations and therefore fewer people’s lives saved because SAQD doesn’t know when to quit and help its cause more indirectly.

This whole situation came about because SAQD wanted to save lives by donating blood, but getting CBS kicked off campus does just the opposite " a little ironic, don’t you think?
"Shausta Johnson
Childhood and Social Institutions II

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