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Canadian Association of University Teachers Condemns York University

Canadian Association of University Teachers Condemns York University

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Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) condemns President Mamdouh Shoukri of York University for sanctioning SAIA and banning a York alumnus.
Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) condemns President Mamdouh Shoukri of York University for sanctioning SAIA and banning a York alumnus.

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02/18/2014

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September 9, 2013 Dr.

Mamdouh Shoukri Office of the President 1050 Kaneff Tower York University 4700 Keele Street Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3 Dear President Shoukri: We are writing on behalf of the Canadian Association of University Teachers to call on you to reverse the decisions taken in April/May of this year to revoke the status of Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) as an official campus group and to ban York University alumni Hammam Farah from your campus. Both decisions raise grave concern about your administration’s commitment to freedom of expression – a freedom vital if universities are to fulfill their obligations in society. We fear there is a pattern emerging at York of sacrificing expressive freedom. We have long had concerns about your 2005 “Senate Policy on Disruptive and/or Harassing Behaviour in Academic Situations”, which, with the most laudable intentions, has vague and ill-defined obligations and provisions that can threaten the kind of expressive environment that should be permitted in a university. Likewise York’s “Code of Student Rights & Responsibilities” attempts to institutionalize vague standards of civility that can threaten the freedoms that are central to the university mission. Civility and courtesy are desirable, but York’s Code introduces more dangers than benefits. York’s “Temporary Use of University Space” policy and its associated procedures give the University administration broad powers to limit and restrict expressive freedom on campus. Again, we are not questioning the need for such a policy but are concerned about the breadth and lack of specificity of this particular version. The mission of the university can only be sustained if it vigorously defends freedom of expression and is widely tolerant of difficult discussions and debates – often impossible to be held elsewhere in society. Your actions regarding SAIA and Farah, as well as the wording of …/2

−2− your various cited policies can only have a chilling effect, at a time and in a place where such a chill serves neither the university’s nor society’s interest. We urge you to restore SAIA’s status as an official campus organization and end the ban on Farah. We also urge you to review your policies so that the University can be administered in a manner that is more openly permissive of expressive freedom. Sincerely,

Wayne D. Peters President /mmp cc:

James L. Turk Executive Director

Arthur Hilliker, President, York University Faculty Association

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