Late last year, several privileges related to the use of university space were temporarily withdrawn for two student organizations following an event and protest that resulted in verbal and physical confrontations.
In keeping with York University’s leadership and commitment to promote free speech, while ensuring a safe and discrimination-free environment, both student organizations ̶ Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) and Herut Zionism ̶ were invited and agreed to participate in separate facilitated discussions as a condition for the restoration of their privileges.
The facilitated discussions were aimed at creating an opportunity for the University and student organizations to engage in a collaborative process with the goal of establishing mutually agreed-upon commitments to uphold the University’s policies, procedures and principles to protect the safety and rights of students, faculty and staff.
The individual sessions were held with the University and both student organizations on Thursday, January 9, 2020, led by an independent third-party mediator, a highly respected Senior Fellow at Harvard Law School who founded and directed the Harvard Law School Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program.
We are pleased to report that the discussions were productive and led to proposed agreements that were subsequently reviewed and agreed to by both student organizations and the University.
As a result, we will be restoring privileges to both student organizations, effective Monday, January 13, 2020. The University looks forward to engaging with all student organizations in a collaborative, constructive manner to preserve and enhance our shared community values of respect, inclusion and free speech.
The comprehensive external review and internal investigation of the event and protest of November 20, 2019, are also in progress. Based on the findings and recommendations of these initiatives, there may be additional engagement between the University and the involved student organizations. York remains fully committed to being a leader – in Ontario, Canada and the world – in fulfilling the vital role universities must play in fostering the free exchange of ideas in a society free from intolerance and discrimination.
For further information, please visit the President’s Initiative on Open & Respectful Dialogue.
Lucy Fromowitz Sheila Cote-Meek
Vice-Provost, Students Vice-President Equity, People & Culture