UPDATE: BDS Movement Question Altered to Exclude Mention of Israeli Human Rights Violations
UPDATE : The CSU Judicial Board chose to use the alternate referendum question created by the CSU CEO Andre-Marcel Baril, which states, “Do you approve of the CSU endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel?”
The wording of “occupation of Palestine until Israel complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights” was removed. The Judicial Board chair Zach Braman said that the new question incorporates the “most reasonable, clear and least ambiguous” phrasing. Concordians in Support of BDS could not be reached for comment by press time.
The referendum question asking the Concordia Student Union to endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel may change or be removed entirely from the ballot tomorrow.
The CSU Judicial Board is currently reviewing whether CSU Chief Electoral Officer Andre-Marcel Baril was “manifestly unreasonable” in regards to his second edit of the original referendum question. Their preliminary decision will be released later tonight.
The current iteration of the referendum question asks, “Do you approve of the CSU endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel’s occupation of Palestine until Israel complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights?”
Zach Ross, a member of the Concordians United Against BDS committee, said that the second edit, which produced the current version of the ballot question, violated CSU by-laws as they were not notified of a change to the referendum question at least seven days prior to the voting.
He said his group continued campaigning with the original question for “four days” after its release. Based on this accusation, Ross called for the cancellation of the question completely.
Baril denied the accusation and said that he publicly posted the altered question on Nov. 16 at 8:15 p.m., which is more than seven days removed from the voting period. The CSU CEO provided evidence in the form of a timestamp of his post on his personal website. He added that he did not directly contact any member from the Concordians United Against BDS committee after the change.
Ross also said that the current iteration mentions a “vague” timeline for how long the boycott will last, that it is “prejudicial” in its wording, that the ruling of what constitutes Palestine’s borders is unstated, that the CSU states no parameters for how they will conduct a boycott and no “universal principles of human rights” are explicitly available for reference anywhere.
Baril said that there is a “strong precedent” of the CSU releasing generalized referendum questions, adding that one question cannot satisfy all stipulations and criteria. He continued by saying it’s “pragmatic” to not have “paragraph”-long questions and that he doesn’t believe the question is prejudiced against Israel in its wording.