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Ratify Palestine Solidarity Society

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It is reported that the Students' Union has rejected a request by students to ratify the formation of a Palestine Solidarity Society in the YUSU. Does it matter if York Students do not get their desired society? In my opinion it does, and for the following reasons.

Similar societies exist in many other Universities. There have been such societies here on campus in the past, the members of which have made important contributions to the debate on the situation in Palestine/Israel in York itself, where there is considerable interest in, and support for, the Palestinian people.

On Thursday January 17th, one hundred and seventy students attended a meeting organised by the student proposers of this Society (but hosted by the Green Party) A lecture, " A Brief History of Palestine" was delivered by Mahmoud Abu Rahma, the Director for International Relations at the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza. Mahmoud is currently a visiting fellow at the Centre for Applied Human Rights at our University. He gave an immensely powerful and authoritative presentation that engendered a very lengthy and lively discussion. The point to emphasise here is that the attendance by 170 students demonstrates the high degree of interest in this topic.

The Israel/Palestine conflict has continued for over 60 years and shows no sign of resolution. Arguably it is the most difficult and the most dangerous situation in the world today. Students are right to be concerned .The fundamental problems are ethical and legal with important political aspects that many students wish to debate. Freedom of expression is fundamental to the academic ethos of all Universities, and it is very difficult indeed to understand why the YUSU has acted in this way The Union Constitution and Byelaws themselves seem to raise no obstacles. As a result, the decision has raised serious questions concerning the procedures that were used to handle the proposal.

The Union does have an Equal Opportunities Policy which, at para 2.1, forbids discrimination based, among other factors, on religious or political beliefs. It can therefore be argued that a Palestine Solidarity Society is necessary on campus in order to protect students' right of freedom of expression with regard to the situation in Palestine. Other religious and political beliefs are, quite properly, already represented.

Whether or not these procedural complaints are upheld, the act of blocking the formation of a Palestine Solidarity Society in present circumstances could very well damage the reputation of the University. Those involved must work together to resolve this problem.


Prof. David Pegg, writing in a personal capacity.


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3 Comments

Elle Posted on Tuesday 22 Jan 2013

Exactly

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Former Sabb Posted on Tuesday 22 Jan 2013

I must say it's absolutely outrageous that a University member of staff is attempting to influence the decision making of the Union.

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Bbas remroF Posted on Tuesday 22 Jan 2013

@Former Sabb

I fail to see a problem - given, as anything else, its reasonableness - of someone waged by the university contributing to the debate? Why is it any different from any other observer passing comment on any other faulty institutional process? It might be said, given the proximity of David Pegg to the institutional process at hand, it is more legitimate than commentaries absent of such a relation (for, he is personnaly affected, and seemingly invested, in such).

Moreover, what does it even meen to 'influence the decision making the Union'; clearly 'influence' exists along a spectrum, from implicit persuasian through university lecture and course material, to brute coercion. Where would you draw the line, and why?

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