Letters to the Editors

QUMSA responds to exclusivity

Dear Editors:

Re: “Muslim club re-ratified, allowed religious exclusivity” (Journal, September 19, 2006).

I’m writing on behalf of the Queen’s University Muslim Students’ Association (QUMSA).

Our club doesn’t exactly restrict membership to Muslims; as our constitution states, non-Muslims are always welcome as honorary members, and many are in fact involved in QUMSA.

Our exclusivity relates only to participation in executive elections—honorary and regular members are entitled to identical privileges in terms of our services, activities and even worship rituals.

Nonetheless, we see it more appropriate for our mandate that Muslim executives run QUMSA, ensuring that its defined purpose can be fulfilled.

Upon realizing that our membership clause violated the AMS constitution, we consulted the Queen’s Human Rights Office and learned that they had previously contacted the AMS to confirm the special status of organizations like QUMSA (hence our ratification in years past). Article 18 of the Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC) grants us an exemption, and we consequently fall under article 7.01.07 of the AMS constitution, allowing exemptions in accordance with the OHRC.

We were informed by the AMS that we need not attend the Assembly for such a simple vote, as our ratification clearly could not be denied. It wasn’t a matter of reluctance or discomfort on our part to appear before the Assembly. We were prepared and more than willing to, but were advised that it was unnecessary.

Thus, you can only imagine our surprise upon hearing of the lengthy debate that arose. Even more astonishing was that the Assembly was debating something explicitly granted to us by the AMS constitution. Those arguing against our ratification actually risked having the Assembly break the law and possibly be subject to prosecution.  Much of the confusion resulted from concern as to how we define a Muslim. We do apologize for failing to clarify this earlier, as it would have helped the Internal Affairs Commission in arguing our case. Let me assure you that QUMSA does not judge or classify Muslims and non-Muslims.

As asserted in the Journal’s article, whoever claims to be Muslim is a Muslim for our purposes. We just hope that this detail was the only cause of concern to the Assembly, and nothing else.

Mamoun Malkawi
QUMSA Publicity Officer

The politics of Clubs Night

Dear Students: 

Federal politics are messy. People are underhanded and don’t abide by any semblance of fair play. On the other hand, I would have expected campus political clubs to, if not be friends, at least play fairly and treat each other with respect. Unfortunately, some members of the campus Conservatives have no such qualms.

I was at the NDP table at clubs night Wednesday, recruiting like everyone else. The Liberals were next to us, and we had a friendly discussion about conventions and how recruiting was going. Shortly after 5 p.m., we noticed a couple bigger guys standing in front of our tables handing out shiny Conservative flyers and blocking people from going to our tables.

When we and other non-political clubs they were blocking confronted them about it, they replied that they were the government and they could do anything they wanted. In jest, they said they were thinking about moving, but they were also thinking about negotiating with the Taliban. They stood there for at least 20 minutes until either they found a shred of decency or they realized how bad it made them look.

It’s not like they didn’t have a table of their own. In fact, the Conservative table had the better location. We should be attracting people through our policies—not by bullying. If I were a member of the campus Conservatives, I’d be ashamed to be associated with these people.

Adina Bogert-O’Brien
Sci ’07

Student extends a post-Homecoming thank you

Dear Editors:

Re: “Volunteers ‘lend a sense of calm’ in Ghetto” (Journal, September 8, 2006).

I didn’t come home with any crazy stories this Homecoming, but I am proud of my new red hat.

Everyone who celebrated Homecoming were happy to see the volunteers in red hats. People came up to me to exchange their beer bottles for plastic cups and particularly thanked me for putting in the time that was allowing them to have fun.

I would also like to extend my thanks to students and alumni, as well as the University.

While the University put out a campaign to deter people from attending, and while city council brightened the streets and attempted to limit alcohol sales, the AMS leaders working in tandem with the police really ought to be given the respect they deserve.

The easygoing nature of most of the police officers, along with the volunteers, let people have an enjoyable evening without losing control.

On behalf of Queen’s students, thank you to everyone who made it a safe and enjoyable weekend.

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith
ArtSci ’07 and candidate for city councillor in the Sydenham Ward

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