18th March 2011

Responses to rector

AMS, SGPS and principal weigh in on rector controversy

Rector Nick Day was the subject of much controversy after he sent a letter to Michael Ignatieff on the topic of Israeli Apartheid Week.
Rector Nick Day was the subject of much controversy after he sent a letter to Michael Ignatieff on the topic of Israeli Apartheid Week. (Journal File Photo)

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Student governments are waiting to hear from their constituents before passing judgment on Rector Nick Day’s recent actions.

AMS President Safiah Chowdhury said the AMS has no stance on whether Day should be impeached and that the Society will support the results of the March 22 and 23 referendum.

Chowdhury said the AMS will use the results to make a recommendation to the University Council. The Council, which meets May 1, will then decide whether to remove Day from office.

“If results are in favour of his impeachment, students could expect him out of office by early May,” she said.

The impeachment referendum comes as a result of a recent letter Day wrote and signed as rector. The letter advocates for Israeli Apartheid Week on campus and criticizes Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff’s stance on the issue.

Chowdhury said AMS election policy has very loose guidelines for holding a referendum that could lead to impeachment.

“This type of referendum has never happened in the history of Canada,” Chowdhury, ArtSci ’11, said, adding that students will be emailed instructions to their webmail account along with a link used for login, similarly to how students voted in the AMS elections last month.

SGPS President Jawad Qureshy said that although his Society isn’t taking part in the AMS referendum, they are looking for student opinion. He said the SGPS could establish a formal stance on the rector’s actions after their Annual General Meeting (AGM) on March 22.

“The University Secretariat, the CEO of the AMS and I had discussions about the various gaps in our respective policies and the best way forward seemed to be to have each Society institute its own procedures for its own students,” Qureshy, MA ’11, told the Journal via email.

Depending on the opinions and perspectives expressed by SGPS members at the AGM, the Society will make its own recommendation to the University Council about whether Day should be removed.

“It is quite possible that what happens at the AGM will oblige the SGPS to make a recommendation. It depends on the motions on the table I suppose,” he said, adding that motions could include anything from referendum to discussion.

Principal Daniel Woolf recently released a statement on his blog encouraging the AMS and SGPS to continue debating Day’s actions.

“This is as it should be,” he wrote. “Students debating and discussing the role of their elected representatives.”

While Woolf wrote that freedom of expression must be upheld, he also said that Day is answerable to those, and only to those, who elected him. He ended his post by calling for dialogue to stay open and respectful.

“This again is what universities are all about.”


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