MSU releases statement on "violence in the Middle East"
After extended consultation, the McMaster Student Union has worked alongside the Student Representative Assembly to address concerns and represent students affected by the Israel-Hamas conflict
In the council room in Gilmore Hall on Nov. 12, McMaster’s Student Representative Assembly met for meeting 23J. Representatives met to discuss a motion put forward in support of students at McMaster University affected by the violence in the Middle East, as well as routine reports from the various faculty caucuses.
The statement, co-written by MSU president Jovan Popovic and vice-president Adam F. El-Kadi looks to address the ongoing Israel/Hamas conflict. In a memo to SRA members ahead of the meeting, El-Kadi wrote that he and the president had taken the time to meet with multiple student groups and individuals who have reached out to create a statement that accurately represented students.
“[This motion] was the result of multiple rounds of consultation with student groups from various backgrounds and outlooks. We have actively sought input from our diverse student body, in advance of offering a resolution to define the sentiment of student government at McMaster University,” said El-Kadi.
The statement's draft was read before the SRA and noted a rise in both anti-Palestinian and anti-Israeli racism at McMaster, in Hamilton, and internationally. The statement also claimed that commentary on social media has resulted in a number of reported threats towards Palestinian and Israeli students at McMaster.
The statement further made reference to the casualties of the conflict and echoed comments made by the United Nations condemning the actions of both the Israeli and Hamas government, ultimately calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
During the meeting, Popovic and El-Kadi resolved to promote peaceful events at McMaster via the MSU Clubs Department and requested that the university accommodate students affected by the conflict by way of leniencies towards deadlines and course work.
Popovic and El-Kadi also joined nations around the world condemning the violence perpetrated by both belligerents in the conflict and called for a ceasefire in Gaza to allow for humanitarian aid.
Popovic and El-Kadi pledged to make a financial contribution of $15,000 split evenly between the Palestinian Children's’ Relief Fund, Hamilton’s Anti-Racism Resource Centre, Hamilton Jewish Family Services and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement on behalf of the students union.
In his address to the SRA after the motion was presented, Popovic discussed the time that had been put into crafting the statement, consulting with many student organizations on campus and taking their priorities into consideration.
“Everyone was taken into account and everyone has points in this motion that can be attributed directly to their advocacy and contributions.” said Popovic.
Representatives at the meeting were then given time to draft and put forward amendments to the statement, including changes to language and facts being presented with updated sources.
The amended statement was put to vote and passed at 9:04pm, with 21 voting in favor and 5 abstaining. The statement was released in an Instagram post by the MSU on Wednesday and the full statement was posted to the MSU website.
Other topics discussed at the meeting included the change in management of McMaster's TwelvEighty, the Grind and the Union Market. All three will now return to self-operation under the MSU which promises better food, better prices and better portions. Popovic addressed actions being taken with regards to Generative AI use by students, saying that the new regulations are restrictive and some of the tools the university is set to use to detect AI use may harm students unfairly flagged by unreliable detection software.