I respectfully disagree with the Feb. 21 editorial, “McGill Administration must support independence of student societies.” Igor Sadikov advocated for violence toward Zionists, which includes Zionist students at McGill. I am a proud Arts Graduate of McGill, and I identify as a Zionist. I know many others at McGill who would say the same. Sadikov advocated violence against students that he represents, and the administration was right to speak out against it.
Igor Sadikov tweeted, “punch a zionist [sic] today,” and in doing that he called for violence against many McGill students. He has since resigned from the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Board of Directors, but remains on an Arts Undergraduate Society as a SSMU representative. The job of Arts Representative to SSMU is to represent the Faculty of Arts to the student government. Sadikov cannot do that job because he called for violence toward many of the students he supposedly represents. He cannot be allowed to represent student interests anymore.
The editorial argued that the administration imposing a course of action on SSMU violates the independence of the student society. However, student representatives do not have unlimited power. Igor Sadikov was elected Arts Representative to SSMU. His job is to represent the Faculty of Arts. This entitles him to advocate on behalf of the Faculty of Arts to the student government. It does not allow him to advocate violence towards students. When Sadikov overstepped the bounds of his job to advocate violence, it meant this was no longer a student society issue but a safety issue.
Students at McGill have chosen to attend this university, but students do not have a choice to join SSMU—SSMU fees are mandatory. If McGill mandates that students join a student society, then SSMU must represent the interests of every student. While SSMU cannot do a perfect job, students have a right to be represented by someone who does not advocate violence against them. If SSMU is not willing to protect students from the violent threats of their representatives, it is the administration’s duty to step in.
Maintaining the independence of SSMU would be ideal. However, there are some things that are more important than the independence of student societies. Violence cannot be permissible from any McGill student—let alone a student government representative. Sadikov does not have an unconditional right to serve as Arts Representative, this was a privilege granted by his fellow students. He lost that privilege when he advocated violence against Zionist students. Students must feel safe from violence at McGill. If the student society will not step in, the administration must. Violence against a religious or political group cannot be condoned in any way at McGill or any university campus.
Norman YallenMcGill Arts Graduate, '16