SAIA members are required to take anti-oppression training, and some of us have dedicated ourlives to anti-oppressive politics. And so we are well-versed in rights-discourse and better-positionedto recognize a violation of a right than the bureaucrats in your administration who have failed toeven express
concern regarding York’s investments in defense contractor CACI, which supplied US
interrogators and is accused of directing the torture at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Our view is consistent with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s
(CCLA) view, which we
quoted several times in our replies to the administration’
s emails that you falsely claim wentunanswered:
ubstantial restrictions of freedom of expression and assembly are unbecoming of an institution of higherlearning, which is otherwise uniquely placed to encourage critical thinking and questioning even when it takesa form that may result in some level of
or interference with the everyday workings of theUniversity. Events that are simply noisy, disruptive, or cause some
are often still peaceful,and in many cases such disruption is a core component of the nature of the protest or the message being conveyed.
Most recently, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) sent you a letter expressing long-held concerns about the Senate Policy on Disruptive and/or Harassing Behaviour in AcademicSituations, the Temporary Use of University Space policy, and the Code of Student Rights and
Responsibilities. The fact that CAUT’s concerns are shared by us and by many other students and
community members puts into question your conclusion that the policies fairly and effectively balance the many individual and group rights that are asserted within our community. One wouldreasonably assume that objections and concerns by the CCLA, Ontario CLA, CAUT, and many students and community members would prompt a more serious review and amendment process.But it appears that you have decided to maintain a rejectionist, anti-democratic stance.
Lastly, while you claim respect for SAIA’s mission, our mission is not simply to educate theUniversity’s learning community about Pal
estine, but to also further the Palestinian demand forBoycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). Your attempt to omit BDS from the discussion will notmake it go away. We will continue to push for BDS, and we will continue to resist repressionagainst it. The path to moving forward is in working with us, in an environment more conducive to freedomof expression and assembly,
to prevent York’s investments from ending up in military companies
and other companies with heinous human rights records involved in Palestine and elsewhere. We hope that you will follow up with your intent to work with us in furthering this goal. Until then, we will note that you have rejected meaningful dialogue and a positive relationship between SAIAand the York administration.Sincerely,Students Against Israeli Apartheid at York University