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Student-Funded Social Justice Organization Under Attack

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.


March 16, 2009

Student-Funded Social Justice Organization Under Attack

Defamation part of strategy to destabilize student activism on campus

HALIFAX – At a recent Annual General Meeting of the Dalhousie Student Union, a student campaign has attacked the name of the Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group (NSPIRG).

At the DSU AGM, a student representing the Stop NSPIRG campaign proposed a motion that NSPIRG stop paying the salary of a staff member, that it vacate its offices within 30 days, and that the DSU hold in trust the entirety of NSPIRG's funding until legal counsel is consulted.

NSPIRG, a student-funded, non-profit, non-partisan organization has been active on the Dalhousie campus since it first received its funding in 1990. NSPIRG-Dal's mandate is to link research with action for social and environmental justice. In recent months it has held activities that challenge corporate control and militarism on campus.

The Stop NSPIRG website slanders the name of NSPIRG, alleging it is anti-semitic due to its condemnation of the Israeli assault on Gaza, and it's support of Israeli Apartheid Week.

"As a Jewish Board member of NSPIRG, I find it highly offensive that NSPIRG has been labeled anti-semitic," said Dal student Zoe Simpson. "My Judaism is not to be defined by the actions of the Israeli state and it is not my obligation as a Jew to always agree with those actions. As someone who is very proud of their Jewish identity, I can honestly say I have never once witnessed any anti-semitic behaviour from my fellow board members."

The Stop NSPIRG campaign alleges that NSPIRG organized a demonstration outside of the February 10th Student Career Fair, preventing students from entering the Fair. Despite their allegations, at no point were students ever prevented from entering the Career Fair. The Student Coalition Against War, a working group of NSPIRG, opposed the presence of Lockheed Martin at the fair. Lockheed Martin is the world's biggest weapons manufacturer and currently violates the UN convention on cluster munitions.

The defamatory campaign also alleges that NSPIRG members stood on tables and disrupted a Department of National Defense (DND) recruiting session in the fall. This simply did not happen. Members of NSPIRG did attend the recruitment session; they listened to the presentation, and when it was done, asked critical questions about DND's promotion of war and occupation abroad. There was no standing on tables, and when asked to leave, they did.

"NSPIRG is an important part of the long standing community at Dalhousie and in Halifax," said NSPIRG staff Angela Day. "As students come and go over the years, NSPIRG has remained a solid connection between community projects and student involvement."

NSPIRG and its supporters call on the community to denounce the smear campaign launched against the good name of NSPIRG, and to rally in support of NSPIRG at the upcoming DSU Annual General Meeting, on April 1st, 2009, at 6:30 in the Dal SUB. Students will have the chance to vote down this motion, and stand up for an important campus/community organization such as NSPIRG.

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For more information and interviews:

Angela Day, NSPIRG staff member (902) 877-0645

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