KINGSTON – Queen’s University rector Nick Day’s right to maintain his position as representative of the student body is being challenged following a letter he addressed to federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on rabble.ca last week in defense of Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW).
According to an op-ed by Ignatieff published earlier that week in the National Post, “IAW goes beyond reasonable criticism into demonization.
“IAW and CUPE Ontario’s anti-Israel posturing exploit academic freedom and they should be condemned by all who value civil and respectful debate about the tragic conflict in the Middle East. This makes you an active and powerful accomplice,” Day wrote in his viciously anti-Israel letter to Ignatieff.
Among other outrageous allegations against the Jewish state, Day accused Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinians and claimed that Israel’s “violence” against Palestinians is “perhaps the biggest human rights tragedy of my generation.”
This was not the first time that Day had used his position to push his political agenda. He was censured in November for his Remembrance Day speech, in which he touted his radical left views, including condemnation of the “international silence” on the Palestinian issue.
Although Day expressed regret that he signed his letter in his capacity as rector, he made no apologies for its contents. “I love that letter,” he told Queen’s newspaper The Journal.
A news release issued by Mitchell Rattner, president, Queen’s Israel on Campus, and Aaron Vomberg, president, Canadian Federation of Jewish Students (CFJS), stated that Queen’s students are “one step closer to impeaching” Day.
The university’s Alma Mater Society voted unanimously – 35 to zero, with 3 abstentions – on a referendum to decide on his future as rector.
“We originally hoped to acquire about 800 signatures on our petition to hold a referendum,” Rattner said. “But by the time we finished counting signatures, we had 2,207 students who were clearly fed up with Mr. Day’s continued abuse of power.”
Also, “while Queen’s Israel on Campus, the Queen’s Liberals and the Queen’s Conservatives were instrumental in starting the campaign, it was the social networking ability of the entire Queen’s community which made this so incredibly successful.”
Students pushing for Day’s impeachment are of diverse backgrounds and groups, Rattner said.
Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolfe asserted that “Day’s views do not and should not be seen as being representative of those of Queen’s University students.”
A counter petition was started by Day’s supporters in defence of IAW. By Monday, there were already about 1,000 signatories in the name of “academic freedom and freedom of expression.”