Dear members of the U of T community,
We are deeply troubled by the directives contained within two motions passed at the November 24 Annual General Meeting of the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU). These motions reference the international Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement and discuss the active participation of Jewish students within the University of Toronto Scarborough community.
In passing these motions, SCSU has not represented the best interests of all students at U of T Scarborough and has set a dangerous precedent for future U of T Scarborough student union decisions. The Union’s actions directly undermine the efforts that U of T Scarborough and the University are collectively making to create a learning and working environment in which all students, staff, faculty, and librarians feel they are safe, welcomed, respected, and able to meet their fullest potential.
Students, staff, faculty, and librarians at the University of Toronto are entitled to their own views on all issues. Israeli-Palestinian relations are no exception. However, no member of our community—and no supplier to the University—should be compelled to share a particular viewpoint or perspective on the actions of any nation state. As the President noted, academic freedom is a core principle of the University, and all members of our community have the right to exercise it.
The U of T Scarborough campus is committed to inclusive excellence and has worked closely this year with the student group Jewish Student Life to expand kosher food offerings. This partnership continues to make progress. Additionally, staff at U of T Scarborough’s Office of Student Experience and Wellbeing (OSEW) and the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Office (EDIO) continue to meet with members of Jewish Student Life to determine how to further support Jewish students and promote understanding of ongoing barriers. Across the tri-campus, we are providing opportunities for students, staff, faculty, and librarians to deepen their learning and understanding of the experiences of anti-Semitism to better support members of our Jewish community. As part of its ongoing programming, the Anti-Racism & Cultural Diversity Office (ARCDO) is offering restorative spaces for the Jewish community with Rabbi Ariella in addition to education sessions focused on understanding and addressing Anti-Semitism. U of T Scarborough is partnering with the non-profit organization Dimensions to offer training sessions for all student leaders this January.
We are releasing the report of the Anti-Semitism Working Group and Administrative Response early in December. U of T Scarborough, the Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture, and our Equity offices across the tri-campus will work alongside divisional leaders and students in implementing the Working Group Recommendations.
Inclusive excellence cannot be realized at U of T unless and until we all accept our collective and individual responsibility to uphold these values.