At this past week’s Student Representative meeting, the Assembly voted to not endorse the End the Ban Campaign. I was not one of those representatives.
The End the Ban Campaign is a nationally run campaign that advocates against discrimination. Its goal: to allow men who have had sex with other men the ability to give blood. Currently, if you are a man and have had sex with another man before 1977 and whether it’s been oral, anal, with or without a glove, you can’t donate blood. That’s wrong.
My unofficial recollection was that nine other Student Representatives voted to endorse the campaign – we were not in the majority. Instead, the Assembly sent the motion to the Operations Committee for further review.
At the meeting there was a presentation by two student representatives, Joshua Weiner and Riaz Sayani-Mulji. In attendance there was a representative from the local AIDS network, interested students, and members of campus clubs. The Assembly heard them all support the campaign, but sadly the majority of your student elected officials did not seem to care what students think.
What concerns me, and should concern students of McMaster, is that if you don’t stand up against discrimination – even if you’re apathetic – you let hate continue. That’s what the SRA did this past meeting; by not taking a stand, they let discrimination continue here at McMaster.
The members let down the students who packed the back of the room at the last Assembly meeting. They spoke against the ban, they spoke against discrimination. And they did it on behalf of the many students at McMaster who are not allowed to donate blood because of their sexual orientation. Frankly, I don’t understand how anyone’s sexual preference can have any impact on what they can do in society. How can we not take a stand? But that’s what we did.
To be fair, the sticking point for many representatives was that a student advocacy group, the Canadian Federation of Students, supports the campaign. McMaster students, through the MSU, are members of opposing advocacy groups. But End the Ban offered us literature that we could edit for content, from which we could remove the CFS logo, and that we could use to make our own literature.
The truth is that the CFS is a left-wing advocacy group, whereas the ones that we pay into are right-wing advocacy groups. The battle to support End the Ban was political. Representatives felt that by participating in a left-wing campaign, they would be supporting a left-wing organization. My opinion is that fighting discrimination and hate should not be confined to partisan political squabbling. Most students don’t care who our advocacy association is. Most students never see it. But many students have had to face discrimination or hate. Supporting the End the Ban campaign is something that should unite people together.
Instead, we saw student representatives ignore students, experts, and a national movement. Representatives were too spooked by a leftist boogeyman to take a very important action that would help so many students here on campus.
If you would like to speak up in favour of the End the Ban Campaign, please email your representative, the MSU president, sign the petition, or come out to the next SRA meeting and have your voice heard.