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SRA de-ratifies Dominion society “We made a mistake, but we’re going to fix it”

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Content warning: white supremacy

At an emergency meeting last night, the Student Representative Assembly voted unanimously to de-ratify the Dominion society due to concerns that the club had neglected to disclose its affiliation with an external organization with alleged ties to xenophobic individuals.

The Dominion society was ratified alongside 337 other clubs at the July 24 SRA meeting. Prior to ratification, concerns were raised about the club’s affiliations, but SRA members stated that they had no way to verify these claims.

Two days after the club was ratified, an anonymous Twitter thread published photographs of the Dominion society leader attending events hosted by the MacDonald cultural and historical society, an external organization with no stated ties to McMaster. The thread also showed pictures of other people attending the group’s events, and posted screenshots of explicitly xenophobic comments that these individuals had allegedly made in private Facebook groups.

The Dominion society, formerly called the MacDonald society, states that its aim is to celebrate Canadian culture and history. The leader of the Dominion society denies that the club has any connection to white supremacist individuals or organizations.

The release of information sparked considerable community backlash. The day after the Twitter thread was posted, McMaster students union president Josh Marando issued a statement urging SRA members to de-ratify the club in light of the new information.

During the emergency meeting last night, Marando reiterated that he had recommended de-ratification because the Dominion society did not disclose its alleged ties to the MacDonald cultural and historical society, and because people tied to that organization had allegedly expressed white supremacist beliefs.

Despite a delayed start while waiting to meet quorum, the meeting lasted only 15 minutes. All SRA members who spoke during the meeting agreed that the club should not be allowed to exist on campus.

For SRA (arts & science) representative Catherine Hu, this incident highlights the need to reform the ratification process so that the same thing does not happen again.

“If we have adjustment to our policy of how we go about ratifying clubs, it would solidify why we should or should not ratify certain clubs,” said Hu.

SRA (social science) member Vania Pagniello stated that the SRA needs to take concerns of white supremacy more seriously. Pagniello noted that, while not explicit, there were warning signs in the Dominion society’s application that warranted closer investigation. In previous meetings, concerns were raised about the club’s plans to run events celebrating Canadian colonial history, given Canada’s history of colonization and state violence.

“In the future we need to be a lot more thoughtful and stringent about the people that we’re giving resources to,” stated Pagniello. 

The vote to de-ratify the Dominion society was unanimous. 

“We made a mistake, but we’re going to fix it,” said SRA (science) representative Armand Acri.

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Author: Hannah Walters-Vida

From Feature's Reporter to Volume 90's Editor-In-Chief, Hannah is a seasoned writer at the Silhouette. She's a big fan of politics, visual arts, rugged camping, long-distance biking and plants. As a recent Environmental Science and JPPL graduate, Hannah is sticking around Mac for a little while longer and keeping print alive.