Queen’s rector abused his power in letter to Ignatieff

Controversy recently arose at Queen’s University when the student rector, Nick Day, sent a scathing letter to Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, which was published on rabble.ca condemning his support for Israel on behalf of students. The rector at Queen’s is tasked to represent students to the university in matters pertaining to education.

Among the absurd comments made by Day in his letter was the insinuation that Ignatieff was complicit in genocide and an accomplice to “perhaps the biggest human rights tragedy of my generation.”

Apparently human rights catastrophes like the genocides in the Sudan, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia never occurred, along with mass starvation of North Koreans by Kim Jong Il, Hussein’s gassing of the Kurds or the ongoing tragedy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Regardless of the absurdity of his claim, he does have the right to speak his mind. He cannot, however, do so in the name of 20,000 Queen’s students. He signed his letter as “Rector” and stated that he “was elected to represent the approximately 20,000 students of Queen’s University.” His mandate as rector had nothing to do with Israel and has nothing to do with international affairs. It has to do with representing students on education issues to the administration. Anything more is an abuse of power.

The Queen’s Alma Mater Society Assembly should be congratulated for approving a referendum to recall Day as rector. While his term is coming to an end, it is an important symbolic victory to send a message to future student officials that abusing their power in a respected position is unacceptable.