Sam Colbert

Managing Editor

 

After sending it to a committee for further review at a meeting almost a month prior, the Student Representative Assembly (SRA)  ultimately decided on Feb. 5 that the McMaster Students Union (MSU) would not support the End the Ban campaign.

The campaign, which would be adopted from the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and its partner groups, is pushing Canadian Blood Services (CBS) to lift its lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have had sex with other men since 1977.

“Everyone felt that there needed to be a change in policy, and they felt that this was an issue that needed to be dealt with,” said MSU president, Matthew Dillon-Leitch. “The reason why we voted against supporting this motion was that we felt there was a better way for us to do it.”

Following the vote, six members walked out of the meeting, disappointed that the Assembly did not choose to support the cause.

“I was frustrated, and, to be honest, I was a bit ashamed of the MSU,” said Riaz Sayani-Mulji, who tabled the motion on Jan. 8 following a presentation with fellow SRA Health Sciences member Joshua Wiener.

CBS has a partnership with the students Union that allows the group to hold blood donation clinics on campus. Despite the cooperation, Sayani-Mulji stressed the growing base of support for End the Ban, which includes campus departments, politicians and national organizations.

“We’re not trying to demonize Canadian Blood Services,” he said. “That’s not what End the Ban does. It merely says that we have to be critical, and we have to be aware that there is a discriminatory practice in place that is not justified by science.”

Supporters of the campaign at McMaster have been circulating a petition in favour of its adoption, and received more than 1,000 signatures within one week.

The End the Ban campaign is run through a partnership between CFS, Canadian AIDS Society and Égale Canada, an LGBT human rights organization.

The three groups have been working together on the issue since 1998, and initiated the campaign in 2007 to further propel their initiatives.

Given the non-political mandate of the MSU’s Queer Students Community Centre (QSCC), as well as the cooperation between the Student Health Education Centre (SHEC) and CBS, some representatives were questioned how the campaign would be run.

Additionally, concerns were raised regarding the support of a campaign held on behalf of CFS, given that it is a rival lobbying group to the ones that represent the MSU.

“We didn’t really feel comfortable going through a third-party lobbying organization,” said Dillon-Leitch.

He added, “Our own services and our own staff weren’t quite comfortable with the way things were worded in that campaign. We felt that we could effectively get the message out that we wanted to get out there and be in control of that message.”

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