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Further update on Concordia Hillel

The Gazette’s Irwin Block attended Hillel’s press conference yesterday, and reported the following in today’s paper:

Lawyer Michael Bergman said yesterday he plans to file a civil action against the Concordia Student Union in Quebec Superior Court by next week seeking annulment of the suspension of Hillel’s rights and privileges.

The university will be named as a co-party to the action, and be asked to “take control of its own space and property” and enable Concordia Hillel to carry on its religious and secular programs.

If necessary, Concordia would be asked to place the CSU under trusteeship, Bergman warned.

Hillel would also seek “significant” punitive damages for infringing on “the freedoms, liberties and constitutional rights of Concordia’s Jewish students and their association, Concordia Hillel,” the group’s co-presidents said in a statement.

As many of you know, the CSU will be meeting tonight to attempt to pass motions forcing Hillel – and other groups – to sign agreements before their club can be reinstated. On this point, Hillel’s lawyer said the following:

The student government has since backtracked, saying Hillel can be reinstated if it signs a commitment not to distribute material that promotes war.

A motion is to be presented at a council meeting tonight calling for Hillel’s immediate reinstatement, while another restates that all campus clubs sign the commitment.

Bergman, acting as Hillel’s counsel, said the group will continue to refuse because “signing it would mean we are against the war on terrorism, a war against Iraq, a war in self-defence, a war to protect Canadian soil.”

Essentially what it comes down to is the CSU’s refusal to accept that others may not share their views, but still have the right to freedom of speech. The CSU’s politicians are anti-war. Hillel – from my view, normally a peace-loving organization – is being asked to sign an agreement to share that view, or else it will not be allowed to operate on campus.

Hillel’s views on peace or war are irrelevant. What is relevant here is the principle of the thing. The CSU cannot dictate to any of its member clubs what to believe or what political views to hold. If Hillel wants to be a pro-Israel club, the CSU can’t ban it from operating because the CSU is pro-Palestinian. If some other student group wants to endorse free trade, the CSU cannot ban it because the CSU is anti-free trade. And if tomorrow, a group of students wanted to form a pro-war group, then the CSU really has no right whatsoever to disallow it on the grounds that they are “demilitarized”.

Freedom of speech applies to everyone – agree or disagree. And that is the real issue at stake here. The CSU is going to try to pass more motions against Hillel tonight. See below for the appeal to the community to show up and protest.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Shlinkin 12.13.02, 3:20 AM

    So what happended at the CSU hatefest?

  • Shmoo 12.13.02, 3:51 AM

    It was a very anticlimatic event. The meeting room was packed with dozens of Hillel supporters. The meeting began with one of the CSU members of Council, representing Hillel, making a brief speech. She denounced the Council’s earlier decision to effectively ban Hillel from Concordia and urged everyone who supported her to leave the room, to demonstrate that the Council is illegitimate. At that point the counselors from Hillel and all of their supporters left the room. I have no idea what motions were passed regarding Hillel once we left. It was pretty much just the council and the media that stayed in the room. If anyone knows what the CSU discussed and passed please let me know.

  • Matthew :) 12.13.02, 4:58 AM

    A whole lot of nothing. I wrote up a bit; rather than post it all here, I’ll give you this link.

  • Peter 12.13.02, 7:11 AM

    check thelink. a full story is up about everything that went on at the meeting.

  • Shmoo 12.13.02, 3:16 PM

    LATEST UPDATE: (from CBC Montreal)
    “At a meeting Thursday night, the student council passed a resolution that now allows the group to conduct some activities, although Hillel’s funding is still frozen.

    The resolution asks all student groups to sign a declaration of mutual respect. The declaration would prevent Hillel from handing out pamphlets designed to recruit for military purposes.

    The student council says Hillel will have its funding reinstated when it signs the declaration, and that any group which refuses to sign the declaration will lose its funding.

    Reports say Hillel, which receives about $2,000 from student fees, has said it refuses to sign the declaration and will head to the Quebec Superior Court to get the club’s full status restored.

    The student council suspended Hillel last Thursday for distributing pamphlets recruiting for a faction of the Israeli army.”

  • Shlinkin 12.14.02, 5:23 AM

    I hope they sue their asses off. And donate the money to victims of arab terror.

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