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To: Dr. Rhonda Lenton, President and Vice-Chancellor York University York University Board of Governors Office of the Ombudsperson, York University The Honourable Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities

Petition Condemning York University Administration and Supporting Encamped Student Protestors

Petition Condemning York University Administration and Supporting Encamped Student Protestors in Support of Palestinians

We, the undersigned, unequivocally condemn the actions taken by the York University administration in their unjust response to the peaceful encampment of pro-Palestinian student protestors. As Canadian scholars and concerned citizens, we find the administration's decision to de-register student associations and forcibly remove peaceful demonstrators deeply troubling.

The current climate of suppressing dissent against Israel's treatment of Palestinians has reached a disturbing peak. York University, an institution that should champion free speech and academic freedom, has instead chosen to intimidate and silence voices of solidarity with the Palestinian people. This reactionary stance undermines the core values of our academic community and the principles of justice and human rights.

On October 12, several student representative bodies at York, including the York Federation of Students, York University Graduate Student Association, and the Glendon College Student Union, issued a statement condemning Israel's illegal and violent actions against Palestinians. This courageous declaration highlighted the brutal reality faced by millions in Gaza, often described as an "open-air prison" since 2007, where the population endures relentless military aggression.

In response, York University issued bureaucratic threats, demanding retraction and framing the students' solidarity with Palestinians as antisemitic. This mischaracterization is a classic tactic used to delegitimize legitimate criticism of Zionism and Israel's policies. It is imperative to distinguish between antisemitism, which must be condemned in all forms, and valid political discourse on human rights abuses and international law violations.

We stand with the encamped student protestors and support their right to peaceful demonstration. The administration's decision to remove the encampment under the Trespass to Property Act is an affront to democratic principles and the right to free assembly. Furthermore, the administration's investment in arms manufacturing and fossil fuels indicates a troubling alignment with imperialist and capitalist interests, rather than the pursuit of truth and justice.

The global struggle against oppression requires solidarity and courage. The voices rising against the genocide in Palestine are part of a broader movement against systemic injustice and the exploitation of marginalized communities. York University's attempts to stifle these voices reflect a broader societal effort to maintain the status quo at the expense of human rights and dignity.

We call upon York University to:

1. Reinstate the student associations' recognition and cease any punitive actions against them.

2. Engage in open and respectful dialogue with student representatives to address their concerns about the plight of Palestinians.

3. Uphold the principles of academic freedom and protect the rights of students to express their views and engage in peaceful protest.

As academics and members of the Canadian community, we must hold our institutions accountable and ensure they adhere to the highest standards of justice and equity. We urge the York University administration to reverse their stance and stand on the right side of history.

Sonya Scott
Associate Professor

I come bearing an olive branch in one hand, and the freedom fighters gun in the other. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand - Yasser Arafat

Why is this important?

  1. Protecting Free Speech: The right to free speech is a cornerstone of democratic societies. When universities, which should be bastions of open discourse and critical thinking, suppress lawful protest, it threatens everyone's freedom to express their views.

  2. Upholding Human Rights: The situation at York University highlights broader issues of human rights and justice. Supporting the protestors means standing up against the oppression and silencing of marginalized voices, particularly those advocating for the rights of Palestinians.

  3. Academic Freedom: Universities should be places where ideas can be freely discussed and debated. Actions that punish students for their political views undermine academic freedom and the integrity of educational institutions.

  4. Solidarity with Students: The students at York University are exercising their rights to peaceful protest and free expression. Showing solidarity with them reinforces the importance of these rights for all students and supports the next generation of activists and leaders.

  5. Preventing Precedent: If York University's actions go unchallenged, it sets a dangerous precedent for other institutions to follow. It's crucial to push back against such measures to prevent a wider erosion of rights on campuses and beyond.

  6. Moral Responsibility: Witnessing injustice and remaining silent contributes to the perpetuation of that injustice. By taking action, you help to create a more just and equitable society.

  7. Global Impact: The issues raised by the protestors at York University resonate beyond Canada. They are part of a larger global struggle for human rights and against systemic oppression. Your support contributes to a worldwide movement for justice.

  8. Empowering Change: Every voice and action counts in the fight for justice. By caring and taking a stand, you join a collective effort that can bring about meaningful change and hold those in power accountable.

Caring about this issue means standing up for fundamental rights, supporting those who are fighting for justice, and contributing to a society where freedom of expression and human rights are respected and upheld.


2024-06-13 17:26:24 -0400

1,000 signatures reached

2024-06-13 16:57:04 -0400

500 signatures reached

2024-06-13 15:20:35 -0400

100 signatures reached

2024-06-13 15:15:39 -0400

50 signatures reached

2024-06-13 15:13:43 -0400

25 signatures reached

2024-06-13 15:12:44 -0400

10 signatures reached