Queen’s University rector Nick Day now says he regrets signing, with his official university title, a public letter to Michael Ignatieff that accused the Liberal leader of being complicit in “genocide.” On Monday, Ignatieff released a statement condemning Israeli Apartheid Week, calling it “an attack on the mutual respect that holds our society together,” and adding that “It is a dangerous cocktail of ignorance and intolerance.”
On Wednesday, Day issued his response calling Ignatieff’s statement “deeply unethical” and accused Israel of being responsible for the “biggest human rights tragedy of my generation,” and further stated that there is a “genocide happening in Palestine.”
As result of that letter, Day could find himself removed from office. Last night, the Queen’s Alma Mater Society voted unanimously to hold a referendum on Day’s impeachment after a petition signed by more than 2,200 students was submitted to student council.
At issue is that Day, who was elected to represent students in “matters pertaining to education” signed his letter as “Nick Day, Rector, Queen’s University, Kingston,” implying that his letter to Ignatieff was an official position of either the office of the rector, or the university itself.
In his statement to Ignatieff, Day also wrote that “If I ever used the influence of my office and the power of my public voice, as you have [. . .] I would have a very difficult time sleeping at night.”
A Facebook group setup to organize the impeachment drive states that what is “most troubling” is Day’s “claim that he was merely speaking for the students.”
Even Queen’s principal Daniel Woolf entered the controversy. He met with Day on Thursday, and then issued his own statement which read, “Mr. Day’s views do not and should not be seen as being representative of those of the University or Queen’s students.”
When campus paper, The Journal, interviewed Day, he said he regretted signing the letter as “rector,” but added that he was concerned that the substance of his argument was being ignored. “I have a need to publicly talk about Israeli Apartheid Week. I think that the letter receiving any more attention about what the rector is doing is detracting about what we should be talking about.”
Students will vote on whether or not to impeach Day March 22-23.