By Natalie Sit
The Muslim Students’ Association will have to pay $2,610.80 for Ramadan room bookings despite petitioning the Students’ Union to have the fee waived.
Debate centered on whether it was a religious or a club issue. However, an amendment striking statements mentioning the religious significance was passed. As well, an amendment to reduce fees by 75 per cent did not pass.
MSA President Mubashir Iqbal believes Muslim students will not be happy with this decision. He is also concerned the information received by student councilors was incomplete. He further explained MSA executive members did contact the SU four weeks before Ramadan, a deadline Vice-President Operations and Finance Gavin Preston recommended. The information presented suggested the MSA contacted the SU three weeks before Ramadan.
“We’ll see and try and work it out to get the money,” said Iqbal. “Precedent was set last year, things went a certain way.”
For Preston, the motion means the SU can now create policy to formally deal with waiving fees for clubs.
“All clubs need to have the same opportunity and treatment so we don’t have to worry about discrimination,” he said.
Academic Commissioner Birju Dattani, who supported waiving the fees, was also disappointed with the outcome and the fact any religious references were removed.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a blatant denial of reality; it’s part of the reason,” said Dattani. “Groups have certain needs to be met. Maybe it makes the council more comfortable but students and the community will see this for what it is.”
Council members spoke in favour of seeing it as strictly a religious event or as a club event.
External Commissioner and President-elect Bryan West didn’t support striking religion from the motion.
“Religion is central to the entire motion,” said West, comparing this situation to the provincial government supporting Catholic school boards. “Money is given by the provincial government or federal government to religion in the form of education or minority language rights.”
Clubs Committee Chair Shawna Little sees this as a club issue as the MSA is a club.
“The Clubs Committee would feel uncomfortable to decide what is a religious ceremony versus an event,” said Little, adding religious clubs often have social events incorporating religious ceremonies. “It’s not because we’re against religion but we’re against defining a religious ceremony.”
The motion failed with 12 opposed and six in favour. Last year, the MSA was charged $235 to use the Shirley Anastasia Lounge, which was occupied by the Used Bookstore this year.