McGill student won’t have to step down from student society for accepting free trip to Israel
MONTREAL -- The Students' Society of McGill University (SSMU) board of directors has rejected a motion from its legislature demanding that one of its members step down for accepting a free trip to Israel.
In a statement released by the SSMU, executive members offered their “deepest sympathies” to Jordyn Wright, a second-year science student.
“Each member of the society has the right and the responsibility to uphold a safe environment and this should be our absolute priority. Personal attacks are unacceptable,” the statement reads.
“No student at McGill should ever be made to feel unsafe because of who they are and the religion they follow. Ideas should be debated, but these debates should never feel as though an individual is being put on trial.”
The debate started after Wright and another student who sits on the board, Adin Chan, accepted the free trip, which is organized by Hillel Montreal.
The voyage is billed as an opportunity for students to meet with journalists, politicians and locals in both Israel and Palestine to better understand the complexities of the region.
Wright had explained she applied to go on the trip as a way to explore her Jewish faith.
"I really wanted to go and just learn. I mean, Israel is something that's really important to me," she told CTV News. "I wanted to go see it through that new lens of just really understanding what's going on and how can the country do better for everybody who lives there."
In an attempt to defend its council's position, the SSMU insists that it discourages any kind of anti-Semitic attacks.
“We are student leaders, but first and foremost we are people, and the accusation that President [Bryan] Buraga intentionally and maliciously villainized a fellow councillor/director is one that must not be levied lightly,” it stated.
“Last Thursday’s motion was in no way driven by anti-Semitic or anti-Israel sentiments or reasoning.”
It argues that board members cannot accept gifts at a value of more than $50 as it “compromises their ability to be perceived as impartial when representing the entire student body.”
The executive committee also lambasted deputy provost of student life and learning Fabrice Labeau for speaking out about the incident, arguing “he has yet to issue such support for Palestinian and Arab students on campus.”
Tuesday, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) welcomes the SSMU's decision to reject the legislature's motion targeting Wright.
“Discrimination, racism, and any attempt to ostracize students based on their identity have no place on campus, or anywhere else for that matter," the organization asserted.
"CIJA will proudly continue to provide support to our partners at Hillel and the courageous students who are addressing these instances of discrimination from the front line.”