Although Héma-Québec is not returning to the downtown campus until at least next semester, the blood agency did not hesitate to hold a blood drive at Macdonald campus last Tuesday. The event was fairly quiet as no protesting groups were present, allowing Héma-Québec to reach its target of 70 donors with ease.
Karyn Tang, president of the Dietetics and Human Nutrition Undergraduate Society, which was hosting the event, had no trouble getting the organization to hold a blood drive at Mac.
“Actually, [Héma-Québec] contacted me,” she said, “they let me know when they wanted to come in and all I had to do was put up posters and help them set up.”
As reported in a recent issue of the Tribune, Héma-Québec is hesitant to return to the main campus due to protests held last January by radical sexual rights group Second Cumming. The demonstrations, which were against Héma-Québec’s policy that prevents men who have had sex with other men from donating blood, ultimately caused the blood collection agency to close their donor clinic several hours early.
Another group that has held a strong stance against Héma-Québec’s MSM blood donation policy-albeit with less controversial protesting techniques-is Queer McGill. Not only have they consistently pushed the agency to change their policies, last year the student service also passed a policy calling on SSMU to bar Héma-Québec from the Shatner building.
Devin Alfaro, political coordinator of Queer McGill, said that by holding the blood drives in the student centre, the Students’ Society was breaking its own constitution by indirectly allowing discrimination of homosexuals. Still, he added that his group supports the idea of blood drives, and is only concerned with Héma-Québec being in the Shatner building because it is SSMU property.
“We’re not against [Héma-Québec] being at Mac,” Alfaro said, “if McGill administration and Héma-Québec can come to an agreement, we’re okay with them being at other locations on campus.”
Members of Rainbow Mac, the Macdonald campus branch of Queer McGill, agree with their downtown counterparts in saying that blood collection is a worthy cause and that the current policies are discriminating.
“I guess as a population group, there is a slightly higher incidence of AIDS [among homosexuals], but that’s not to say that all gay people have HIV/AIDS, especially since there are other minority groups that have high incidences of that,” said former president Jonathan di Tomasso.
However, unlike Queer McGill, Rainbow Mac is not planning to take action against the agency.
“I think in general, Joé [Desjardins, the current president] will probably be more active than I am, but I still have to say its not one of our priorities,” said di Tomasso.
Héma-Québec will be returning to Macdonald campus in the spring semester sponsored by other groups on campus. Representatives from the agency declined the Tribune’s requests for comment.