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I am writing to you on behalf of the Social Justice Centre of UBC (SJC) and asking for your support and public endorsement to protect the autonomy and integrity of this important resource. It is facing urgent threats and we need your help now, especially before a December 1, 2010 meeting.
SJC has worked to fulfill its mandate to oppose socio-economic inequality or oppression and encourage student activism by organizing, sponsoring and participating in many events on campus and throughout the community. Some of the organizations that members have assisted, funded, promoted or worked with include: Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre Power of Women; Vancouver Community Mobilization Network; 2010 Welcoming Committee; No One Is Illegal – Vancouver; VANACT!; Anti-Poverty Committee; Olympic Resistance Network; Student Christian Movement – UBC; Olympic Tent Village; UBC Students for a Democratic Society; Solidarity with Anti-Olympic Convergence Arrestees; Toronto Community Mobilization Network; all of the other Resource Groups at UBC – Allies at UBC; Pride UBC; Womyns’ Centre; Student Environment Centre; and Colour Connected Against Racism; and many more.
We have held many public panels, conferences, rallies, fundraising parties and concerts. We organized a well-attended torch relay rally and several speaking events to highlight the negative impacts of the 2010 Olympics on students and UBC finances. Our members volunteered at the Olympic Tent Village to protest homelessness and poverty. Some members went to Toronto during the G20 and we also held a G20 solidarity rally on campus shortly afterwards. Next year we will host our fourth annual conference on student issues, continuing our work to educate the UBC community by bringing in diverse speakers, promoting critical debates and holding workshops to enhance students’ organizing skills.
Most recently we worked with Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights – UBC (SPHR) to endorse and promote an event with noted speaker George Galloway (a peace activist and former British MP) called Free Palestine, Free Afghanistan, Free Speech. We agreed to make a $700 grant to SPHR that would be donated to humanitarian aid through the Canadian Boat to Gaza, a registered charity. At that time we began to be targeted by Israeli nationalist campus groups including: the Israel Awareness Club (IAC); the Hillel House; and the Jewish Fraternity. Since then we have been publicly vilified as “terrorists,” harassed and attacked in various ways including racist, sexist and homophobic slurs and disingenuous complaints. This is similar to nationwide campus incidents of pro-Israel groups attempting to silence criticism or debate. Furthermore, the AMS president Bijan Ahmadian has frozen the transfer of the grant SJC donated to SPHR by acting outside of his legal powers and in violation of the student union Code. He has also been dishonest in public and media comments about the chronology of events and reasons for his intervention and has even called campus security on SJC members who requested the minutes of a meeting they had attended.
In addition, members of the IAC have filed complaints with an oversight body that question the legitimacy of each of the SJC coordinators, despite the SJC’s willingness to hear their concerns and tolerate their disrespectful behaviour at our recent Annual General Meeting. On December 1 these matters will be heard by AMS Student Council, an event we urge you to attend in support of SJC, SPHR and progressive activism on campuses nationwide. Meanwhile we ask you to send a message of endorsement to us addressed to AMS Council and executives (below). We will compile the endorsements and forward them to these student representatives.
Please share this information with your membership, other activist groups and individuals. The IAC has been inundating AMS councilors and executives with form letters and promoting known inaccuracies about SJC to the UBC community (such as that we are funding Hamas). We are hoping for a diverse show of solidarity from the social justice community that is thoughtful yet overwhelming. Our opponents have had more time and institutional support than we have had, so substantial and immediate help is needed.
Thank you for your time and attention to this urgent matter.
HOW TO HELP:
1) ** Attend the AMS Council meeting in the Student Union Building (SUB) in Council Chambers (upstairs) or the Norm Theatre (main floor) at 6pm on Wednesday, December 1, 2010. (Signs will be posted.)
2) Attend the remaining regular meeting of the SJC in the SUB room 245 on Monday, November 29 at 2pm.
3) * Send individual letters addressed to the AMS Council to email@example.com before 4pm on December 1 so we can bring them to Council, please indicate if you are a current or former UBC student or employee - though all letters are needed.
4) * Send your personal or group endorsements of the below statement to firstname.lastname@example.org before 4pm on December 1:
"UBC AMS Council –
We support the integrity and autonomy of the Social Justice Centre - UBC (SJC) and believe it is an important part of the UBC and Vancouver communities. We defend the right of SJC and other Resource Groups to fulfill their political mandates without unjustified interference by the AMS or other student groups. We reject the dishonest and inaccurate complaints and actions taken against the SJC and its members and urge the AMS Council to take appropriate measures to protect the SJC."
5) Join our Facebook group “UBC Social Justice Centre” or our mailing list email@example.com (low-traffic, moderated) at https://lists.resist.ca/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/sjc-ubc to stay updated.
6) * Write letters to the editor of Vancouver area newspapers and especially the main UBC paper The Ubyssey, which has written critical and inaccurate stories about SJC and the Resource Groups. The deadline for letters to be printed in the next issue (just before the AMS Council meeting) is Sunday, November 28 at noon; email firstname.lastname@example.org to have your say.
7) * Spread the word and forward this message far and wide.
THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! SJC-UBC