Letters to the Editors

Clarifications about QUMSA

Dear Editors:
Re: “QUMSA responds to exclusivity” (Journal, September 26, 2006).

I would like to assure Queen’s University Muslim Students’ Association (QUMSA) that I, nor other members of AMS Assembly, ever sought to block their ratification at the last AMS Assembly.

Indeed, I fully support the concept of exclusive voting rights within certain clubs. If you review the minutes of that Assembly, you will find that I motioned to defer QUMSA’s ratification.

This wouldn’t have threatened QUMSA’s eventual ratification, but instead would have allowed the Assembly the opportunity to hear from your club at our next meeting. My concern was not the nature
of your ratification, but the process by which it was being rammed through the Assembly with no
prior notice being given, and a complete lack of information being provided. It was an egregious error on the part of AMS members to tell you that you should not have attended the Assembly meeting because it was “such a simple vote.”

No vote is simple at AMS Assembly; the highest decisionmaking body of the AMS is not a rubber stamp. I am sure QUMSA and the student body would agree that we should only act with complete and full understanding of the issue. The actions that took place that evening never left the AMS Assembly vulnerable to prosecution, nor did they seek to deny your group the rights that both the AMS Constitution and the Human Rights Code guarantee. Instead, certain members of the Assembly, including myself, fought to ensure that due process took place, and that the Assembly was making an informed decision. For my part, I would argue that it is absolutely necessary that a group always define in writing the nature by which it will exclude others.

In your constitution, how can you not define who a Muslim is, and yet claim to be exclusive on those grounds? I am thankful that I now read in the public forum that QUMSA will be recognizing a Muslim
as someone who identifies as a Muslim, a definition which I fully endorse.

Other members of the AMS Assembly and I would have never raised concern had this original definition been present in your club’s constitution. If a representative from the club had been present that evening—all the better. I hope this has cleared up the situation for QUMSA and Journal readers.

Kyle Abrey
Arts & Science Undergraduate Society Vice-President

Dear Editors:
Re: “QUMSA’s exclusionary practices criticized” (Journal, September 26, 2006).

As a Muslim student attending Queen’s, I’m currently enjoying some of the many services provided by QUMSA such as barbeques, lectures, soccer nights, accommodation listings, course advice and tutoring, as well as Friday and daily prayers in the Muslim prayer space allotted by the AMS for QUMSA. Not only have I benefited from these services, but my other non-Muslim classmates have accompanied me to several of the events provided by QUMSA and, contrary to Ms. Duong’s assumptions of “segregational practices,” have expressed great surprise at how welcomed they felt.

While attending Friday and daily prayers, I have witnessed Muslims of all ethnicities, colour, creed, ex, as well as Muslims adhering to varying understandings of Islam. Some people were dressed in their ethnic clothing, while others were in the latest GQ fashion and all were equally welcome.

Through the experiences mentioned above, I strongly feel that the concerns of Ms. Duong are completely uninformed and speculative. Furthermore, I strongly disagree with Ms. Duong’s argument,
which seemed to be disguised as a violation of “both the letter and spirit of the OHRC.” Based on my understanding of Section 18 of Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC), I expect QUMSA’s executive to facilitate my Islamic worship. Is Ms. Duong suggesting that a non-Muslim could and should facilitate and/or lead Islamic lectures as well as prayers?

I would be one of many people appalled if QUMSA was actually exercising “wholesale exclusion of
non-believers.” I strongly support the AMS’s decision to ratify QUMSA and allow the exemption to restrict executive positions to Muslims. This clearly serves the interest of Muslims on campus and doesn’t compromise QUMSA’s efforts in engaging its non-Muslim Queen’s community.

I would like to invite Ms. Duong, as well as others, to attend one of QUMSA’s activities.

Ahad Parekh
ArtSci ’08

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