A referendum campaign to boycott products complicit with Israeli occupation is now underway at King’s University College.
"Yes" and "no" campaigns for the referendum started on Feb. 27 and will go on till March 12. Eligible students will be able to vote on March 13 and 14.
For almost a year there was debate over the referendum within the King's University College Students' Council (KUCSC).
The decision to hold a referendum was made by last year’s council. However, the final version of the referendum question was decided after prolonged controversy.
Students in this year’s referendum will be asked:
“Do you as a King’s student support calling upon the KUCSC to lobby King’s administration to boycott and divest from any and all companies and products complicit with Israeli occupation based on principles of human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption and change the responsible investment policies to reflect these lobbying efforts?”
Nate Little, KUCSC president, spoke about how the referendum question has changed over the months.
“What I heard people were most concerned with was that the BDS has created problems in the past. So really, what we’re doing is having a new type of referendum and I don’t think one like this has happened in Canada,” said Little. “We’re just trying to do it a little differently so it honours the concerns of students while still allowing a conversation.”
Now that the question has been agreed upon, King’s students can look forward to roughly two weeks of campaigning on campus by both sides of the referendum.
Jordan Shapiro is a second-year main campus science student in support of voting no in this referendum. He is taking part in the campaigning process at King's.
“From our side, we are very much interested in making sure that the information provided to King’s is very balanced, neutral, and fair to everyone,” Shapiro said. “Our main concern is making sure everyone on King's and on main and anywhere else at Western is safe and shouldn’t be worried about this referendum in any way.”
Haya Alsakka, a fourth-year french and psychology double major student at King's, was involved with the referendum from its inception last March. Alsakka was one of the councillors who voted in favour of the referendum and is now the official spokesperson for the yes side of this campaign.
Alsakka highlighted voter turnout as one of her main goals for this referendum.
“I hope students are passionate enough about this topic to vote, whether or not it’s vote yes or vote no,” Alsakka said. “I hope students understand why this is so important to us as a campaign team, to us as students that pay tuition to King’s and, I guess to a larger scale, to Western as well.”
Both sides will be holding booths on King’s campus during the campaign period and will have special guest speakers and workshops available for students to attend.