Among the many student clubs at UFV, the Palestine Student Club, chaired by Kapil Sharma, might appear to students as one of the most intimidating options of student involvement at UFV, but as Sharma himself tells us, the story’s just the opposite.
The club, which has a membership of around 15 people, is actually in the stages of formalizing its existence.
“The group hasn’t officially launched,” said Sharma, the group’s president. “We’ve got a president, a person who committed to be secretary, and a treasurer. We should be finishing the constitution in the coming weeks.”
The group focuses its efforts towards advocacy and education, while making the sometimes-daunting topic of the Palestine/Israel conflict as accessible as they can to students. Sharma said that a lack of familiarity with the topic shouldn’t discourage students from joining, as the group’s activities will naturally include education about the conflict.
“Some of it is just learning. We’re going to do a lot of things, but talking, discussing, is really important.”
UFV has played host to films and panel discussions on the Palestine-Israel conflict previously. Panelists included UFV alumni Colter Louwerse and Philip Sherwood.
Sharma said events in the near future could include panels.
“We’ve been talking about having an event in November. Having different people, Palestinians, share in a panel format, share their stories and their experience of occupation there, and the vision that they see for the future.”
As well, a series of films has been scheduled for the fall semester, the first of which, Occupation 101, was shown on October 5. The next scheduled film, Budrus, will be shown on October 18 at 3:30 p.m. in room B121.
Sharma said that the Palestine student group affords students a unique opportunity to get involved on campus, and participate in a student-driven effort to learn about a pressing human rights issues. More than that, Sharma asserted that the growth garnered from involvement in a student group of this nature is boundlessly beneficial.
“There’s nothing wrong with being a diligent student, but something will happen in your life. It might be travel, or some people get interested when they go through a big injustice. If you don’t practice justice, and just get an education for education’s sake, it will rob you, I think, as a human.”
Moreover, the group is not only an opportunity for students to form a community based on shared collegiate and humanitarian interests, but also an opportunity to become a leader in one of UFV’s newest and most ambitious student groups.
“I don’t want to be the only one speaking,” says Sharma. “There is the expectation that within a year, year and a half, people will be able to grow to speak with some authority on the matter.”
For now, Sharma said, the issue of Palestinian human rights remains as pressing as ever.
“There are so many other issues we care about, but with many of those issues — from child abuse to whatever — there is a recognition that it’s wrong. With this one, people don’t even know that people are being frisked on their way to work, have no access to clean water, [that] houses are being sold for real estate purposes, or about the disproportionate attacks on villages. Children are being used as human shields.”
The Palestine Film Series at UFV will run until November 15, and will showcase films on October 18, November 2, and November 15. All will be screened in B121 at 3:30 p.m. on their respective date.