The Mount Allison Students’ Union (MASU) promotion of a Canadian Blood Services (CBS) blood drive has left at least one student questioning the decision. MASU, as a part of the Healthy Living Month, has encouraged students to get their blood type determined on October 8 at the Student Centre in order to donate blood at the Tantramar Civic Centre on the 15.
CBS policy currently bars any man who has had sex with a man in the past five years from donating blood. Up until recently the policy was even more restrictive, but CBS continues to face criticism from activists.
Grace O’Hara first raised her concerns about MASU promotion of the event through Councillor Allie Morrison, who enquired about it at a SAC meeting, prompting a lively discussion. Morrison said that one of her constituents was curious if MASU had heard any complaints about their support of CBS, given their policies surrounding men who have sex with men (MSM) donating blood. During this discussion about the appropriateness of MASU encouraging the blood drive, many councillors weighed in.
O’Hara explained, “The MASU seems to be all about representing diversity among students, and when you’re representing 2,500 people, [this includes] homosexual men at Mount Allison.” O’Hara continued, “If not everyone can donate blood who is a Mount Allison student, then [MASU is] not representing that diversity.”
O’Hara said that while she donates blood, she does it on her “own time,” and that “If not every single person can participate I don’t really think it should be happening” with promotional aid from MASU.
First Year Representative Daniel Murphy suggested that the reasons for the ban are possibly outside of the understanding of the MASU, saying, “None of us are health officials here.”
President Melissa O’Rourke defended MASU’s involvement. “The intention behind supporting a blood clinic was definitely supposed to be a positive thing,” she said.
Arts Councillor Kyle Nimmrichter suggested that SAC should come up with a statement of disapproval about the policy, asking, “Can [council] create a policy on a stance on the Canadian Blood Services?” Vice-President, External Affairs Ian Smith replied that MASU has historically “attempted to limit making press releases outside our institution.”
Ultimately, the SAC decided to move on, with Vice-President, Campus Life Heather Webster suggesting that any students who have a problem with the CBS policy can demonstrate their dissatisfaction “through the [MASU] Social Justice Committee.”