August 7, 2013 DELIVERED IN PERSON AND BY EMAIL vpstdnts@yorku.
ca Bennett Centre Student Services, N303 99 Ian Macdonald Boulevard York University – Keele Campus Toronto, ON M3J 1L1
Dear Ms. Morrison, RE: Attempted intimidation of student activists, anti-democratic invocation of University regulations, and abuse of administrative power, April 30, 2013 and May 3rd 2013 The York University community of progressive student activists and allies around the world have documented your dissemination of messages of intimidation to participant speakers of the Palestine solidarity rally on March 27, 2013 in Vari Hall. We have also documented the York administration’s unwarranted and unjust invocations of sections 3(1) and 5(1) of the Trespass to Property Act, which have restricted Hammam Farah, a York alumnus, from entering York University, as well as the withdrawal of the University administration’s recognition of Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA). We fervently denounce your actions as anti-democratic. Your claim that York University encourages freedom of expression and lively debate of controversial issues is laughable at best. Many members of the York community are aware of the University's underhanded measures to regulate debate of controversial issues. These include previous undemocratic amendments to the Temporary Use of University Space policy (TUUS) and the 2010 Vari Hall renovations. Your predecessor, Rob Tiffin, admitted to Excalibur that the purpose of the renovations was to impede collective student expression in Vari Hall, contrary to the aspirations of the building’s architect, Raymond Moriyama. York University's Senate Policy on Disruptive and/or Harassing Behaviour in Academic Situations and the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, like TUUS, are at present incompatible with a critical democratic environment because there is no exception to provide for peaceful protests of a disruptive nature. This is an issue that SAIA has already brought to the attention of the TUUS office, and we expect that it was brought to your attention as well. We once again cite the Canadian Civil Liberties Association's letter addressed to you on January 10, 2013, which stated that: “York University is a well-respected institution of higher learning and, as such, is well placed to encourage critical thinking and questioning, even when this takes a form that may result in some
level of inconvenience or interference with the everyday workings of the University. Events that are simply noisy, disruptive or cause some inconvenience 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.” By this letter, the student movement is giving you notice that you have failed to comply with basic democratic values. Your actions have demonstrated that York University only encourages freedom of expression and lively debate when the questions regarding the University's investments are not up for discussion. We will continue to exercise our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. We will continue to speak out, to protest, and to push for the divestment of university funds from weapons manufacturing companies. We refuse to be silenced and we refuse to be complicit. We call on the University Administration to rescind its trespass notice against alumnus and activist Hammam Farah, to reinstate SAIA as an official student club, and to make a firm commitment to work with students to ensure that freedom of speech and freedom of association are upheld. We urge you to take this matter seriously to ensure that you comply with basic principles of democracy in the future.
Sincerely, Students Against Israeli Apartheid - York University York Federation of Students York University Graduate Students’ Association Afghan Students’ Association at York University International Socialists at York University Middle Eastern Students’ Association at York University Ontario Public Interest Research Group - York University Socialist Fightback Club at York University Syrian Revolution at York University York University Tamil Students’ Association Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign Vancouver Canadian Boat to Gaza Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid Dundee University Action Palestine Society - Scotland Faculty for Palestine Free Palestine Subcommittee of the National Lawyers’ Guild US Glasgow Caledonian University Students for Palestinian Rights - Scotland Glasgow University Palestine Society - Scotland Independent Jewish Voices Canada
McMaster Muslims for Peace and Justice One Democratic State Group – Gaza Palestine House Community Centre Palestine Solidarity Network – Edmonton Canada Palestine Association Palestine-Israel Working Group of Nevada County (California) Palestine Student Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI) Peterborough Coalition for Palestinian Solidarity Progressive Student Action Front in the West Bank and Gaza Queers Against Israeli Apartheid Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign Seriously Free Speech Committee Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights – University of British Columbia Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights – Western University Students Against Israeli Apartheid – University of Toronto Mississauga Students Against Israeli Apartheid – George Mason University Students for Justice in Palestine – Brooklyn College Students for Justice in Palestine – College of Staten Island Students for Justice in Palestine – Cornell University Students for Justice in Palestine – Hunter College Students for Justice in Palestine – John Jay College Students for Justice in Palestine – National, ad hoc steering committee Students for Justice in Palestine – Ryerson University Students for Justice in Palestine – University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Students for Justice in Palestine – University of Houston The Canadian Arab News The Muslim Gazette Toronto Students for Justice in Palestine (University of Toronto Scarborough) Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada (Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance) University Teachers’ Association – Gaza US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) US Palestinian Community Network Voice of Palestine Radio We Are All Hana Shalabi student network - Scotland Fatah Youth Movement – Palestine - An-Najah National University - Birzeit University - Al-Quds University - Arab American University - Hebron University - Palestine Polytechnic University - Bethlehem University - Al-Rawda College - Al-Arroub College - Modern University College - Alumma College - Palestine Technical College AlArroub
Student Youth Movement in Al-Quds Open University in the following branches: - Jerusalem - Bethlehem - Hebron - Jericho - Ramallah - Alezarieh - Nablus - Salfeet - Toubas - Qalqilia - Jenin - Toulkarem - Bedia - Doura - Yata - Biet Sahoor
Student Councils in the following Universities: - An-Najah National University - Birzeit University - Al-Quds University - Arab American University - Hebron University - Palestine Polytechnic University - Bethlehem University - Al-Rawda College - Al-Arroub College - Modern University College - Alumma College - Palestine Technical College - Al-Arroub College
Student Councils in the following Al-Quds Open Universities: - Jerusalem - Bethlehem - Hebron - Jericho - Ramallah - Nablus - Salfeet - Toubas - Qalqilia - Jennen - Toulkarem - Bedia - Doura - Yata - Biet Sahoor - Alezarieh