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This week in UNBSU council: Response to hate propaganda

With September over, the Student Union has kicked into full gear—and this week’s council meeting was certainly reflective of that.

Councillor Jackie Toner gave a positions statement presentation on identity. This included proposed position statements for chosen names as well as chosen pronouns and honorifics.

Toner ended with a motion for an updated statement on gender neutral bathrooms, which passed with a large majority.

During the question period after Toner’s presentation, vice-president advocacy Madi Banks took some time to explain what position statements do for the UNBSU.

“Policy and position statements are nice because they serve two purposes for us…[they] are actionable, but they also giver particular opinions,” said Banks.

Councillor Abram Lutes presents position statement in light of recent hate propaganda

This explanation led into the second presentation by social inclusion councillor Abram Lutes, who proposed the UNBSU adopt a position statement in light of recent hate propaganda on and off-campus..

Lutes called the issue “much larger than campus,”  adding that “it has definitely affected our campus in what I would argue is a negative way.”

The bulk of the two-and-a-half-hour session was spent discussing the situation addressed in Lutes’ motion and the subsequent conversations and questions that came up around it.

Many felt that the wording might need some tinkering to reflect the Student Union’s non-partisan stance.

“Something that has been brought up is that we possibly abstain from using the ‘far-right’ wording, just because that is a political,” said vice-president internal Chris McGinn.

President Herbert Bempah put forth a motion to bring Lutes’ position statement to the Policy and Advancement Committee for review.

“I would like us to take a look at this and word it strongly, and have it consistent with our other SU position statements so that we can communicate clearly and effectively our stance,” said Bempah.

Once Bempah’s motion passed, concerns were raised by councillors over what would be done to address the incidents in the meantime.

Councillor Seshu Iyengar put forth a motion that encouraged the use of positive reactions the UNBSU could give to “perhaps promote diversity, promote the concept of free speech based on respect as opposed to white nationalism.”

Iyengar went on to ask, “How can we promote Aboriginal identity? They were the ones that were explicitly targeted; we shouldn’t forget that in all of this.”

Iyengar’s proposal was positively received and passed in council, and the council started making plans in regards to positive directions the UNBSU could take this in.

Already, the Breaking Stereotypes video from last year’s campaign has started popping up on students’ Facebook pages—and students should expect some more positive messages coming from the UNBSU in the coming weeks.

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