CAIA Statement Congratulating Ryerson Students’ Union

CAIA Statement Congratulating Ryerson Students’ Union

15 November 2007

The Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) warmly
congratulates the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) at Ryerson
University, Toronto, for its successful efforts to promote
and deepen discussion around the academic boycott of
Israeli apartheid. The RSU has convinced the university
administration to launch a debate around this issue
despite an earlier statement by the University President
that he was opposed to academic boycott.

In the summer of 2007, while most students and faculty
were away over holidays, presidents from over 20
universities in Canada unilaterally issued statements
declaring their opposition to the boycott of Israeli
academic institutions. Sheldon Levy, President and Vice
Chancellor of Ryerson University, was one of the
signatories of these statements. In response to this
shameful move by Levy, the Ryerson Students’ Union (Local
24 of the Canadian Federation of Students) passed a motion
calling for the statement to be retracted and for a
transparent and honest debate to be held around the
university response to Israeli apartheid. Many Ryerson
community members drew parallels with the courageous
stance of the university and prominent faculty members
around South African apartheid a decade or so earlier.

The RSU has won the agreement of the University
administration and President’s Office to hold a debate
around this issue on November 28. The pro-boycott position
will be argued by a prominent South African anti-apartheid
activist and academic, Salim Vally, along with Ryerson
academic Alan Sears. The opposition to boycott will be
argued by two university professors from the English and
Philosophy departments. The debate is endorsed by the
University President and will be moderated by the award
winning CBC News Anchor, Suhana Meharchand.

CAIA congratulates the students at Ryerson for this
important show of solidarity with Palestinian students and
educators. CAIA believes that free and open debate on the
issue of Israeli apartheid is more urgently needed now
than ever before. The stranglehold of apartheid continues
to deepen alongside Israel’s attempt to find a Palestinian
leadership willing to sign away the fundamental rights of
the people. Israeli universities are one of the key state
institutions that work to develop military, scientific and
ideological support for the crimes of apartheid and
occupation. These universities systematically discriminate
against Palestinian students who are citizens of Israel.
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are prevented
by military orders from studying there. Many of these
institutions are built on land ethnically cleansed of
their Palestinian inhabitants. They have remained silent
on the systematic destruction of the Palestinian
educational system in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and
have persecuted the few lone voices of dissent within
their own walls.

CAIA believes the victory of the RSU is a powerful
precedent and provides encouragement to other voices
across the Canadian academy to speak out against the
crimes of Israeli apartheid. We urge all to attend the
November 28 debate (details below).

-end

****Academic Boycott and Academic Freedom****

The Ryerson University President’s Office and the Ryerson
Students’ Union invite you to a forum on academic boycott
and academic freedom.
**********************************
Time: November 28th at 6pm
Place: 575 Bay Street @ Dundas Street
RBB – Ted Rogers Business Building in Room 1067
***********************************
Salim Vally, South African anti-apartheid activist & academic
Alan Sears, Ryerson Sociology Professor
Stuart Murray, Ryerson English Professor
John Caruana, Ryerson Philosophy Professor
Moderated by: Suhana Meharchand, Award Winning CBC News Anchor

This is a historic debate, seating will be limited, come
early.

For More Info: Vice-President of Education, Ryerson
Students Union,
vp.education@rsuonline.ca

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