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Letter from Mohamed Lachemi, President & Vice Chancellor of Toronto Metropolitan University, in response to CAEF letter expressing concern about campus antisemitism

Dear Ms. Spindel,


Thank you for your email and for sharing your concerns about the safety of students as we navigate growing campus protests across North America. We acknowledge the fear and concern during this challenging time and appreciate your support. 


To be clear, at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU), we do not have any student encampments or demonstrations on our campus. I want to assure you that we are taking proactive steps to prepare for any possible demonstrations or encampments. Academic freedom and freedom of expression are core tenets of university culture, but violence, harassment, and discrimination are not protected by these principles. We will seek to protect the safety and security of Jewish students, faculty, and staff on our campus throughout these difficult times.


The university has made clear our expectation that TMU students, community members and their guests conduct themselves and express their views in a manner that demonstrates respect, civility and empathy and in ways that are free from discrimination, racism, hatred, threats of violence, and violence.


We have done this in a number of ways. TMU has a robust set of policies and procedures in place to address discrimination, racism, violence, hatred, and other forms of intolerance. This includes our Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy, The Student Code of Non-Academic Conduct, which applies to all students and their guests on campus, and more. Demonstrations that take place on university grounds must go through Explore TMU for proper risk review, space allocations and the need for extra security measures. Any activities by community members or others that pose a risk to the university campus or its members will not be tolerated. Individuals engaging in activities or conduct contrary to TMU policies may be subject to investigation, loss of privileges, trespass, fines and/or criminal charges.


Thank you again for sharing your concerns.

 

Sincerely,


Mohamed Lachemi

President and Vice-Chancellor 

Toronto Metropolitan University

 

Letter from CAEF to President Mohamed Lachemi


Dear President Mohamed Lachemi,


On behalf of the Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation (CAEF), we are writing to you with the utmost of urgency and deep concern.


The events now occurring on our university campuses place us at a tipping point.


The student encampments on university property, the refusal to disperse, the breaches of university policies and student codes of conduct and, finally, the calls to violence and hate by too many of these protesters are reaching a fever pitch.


These protests are a profound violation of the spirit of university life and wider social harmony in our country and must be stopped.


While the freedom to express oneself is vital to our values as a democracy and to university life, it is not unlimited.


These limits have been crossed. Aside from trespassing university property, the words and chants of many of the protestors have violated the sanctity of universities' most cherished purpose: a place of learning and contemplation while providing security for all students, faculty and staff.


Many students, faculty, and staff, particularly, pro-Israeli and Jewish members of university communities, are feeling unsafe while the students' education is interrupted.


This atmosphere cannot continue.


We strongly urge you to take the following immediate action steps.Restore campuses to places of learning for all must be your highest of priorities. Therefore, we call on university leadership to:


  1. Be proactive. Make it clear that the breaking of laws and codes of conduct will not be permitted.

  2. Ensure real consequences for any students, faculty and staff involved in the violation of university policies and hate speech. Such consequences must Include suspension if they violate calls to disperse.

  3. Put campus groups inciting disobedience and disorder under immediate review regarding their continued status withinin the university framework.

  4. Adopt the IHRA definition of anti-semitism across all platforms so that the appropriate tools to counter contemporary antisemitism are available thereby setting the right tone for the university as a place of learning.

  5. In the application of the above mentioned-definition, establish internal regulations comprising a series of litmus tests to ensure that any protests on university property calling for hate, murder and/or violence will not be permitted.

  6. Support the convening of a Summit of Presidents of universities to coordinate responsive university policies to counter anti-Jewish and anti- Israeli discrimination on campus.


To conclude, let us all commit to the words of Benjamin Disraeli, “A University should be a place of light, of liberty, and of learning.”


Please take our suggested action steps with the utmost seriousness.


Thank you for your consideration.


Yours truly,




Andria Spindel,

Executive Director






Anita Bromberg,

President


Cc Members of Federal and Provincial Governments


NOTE: US legislation to thwart antisemitism approved in Congress. Read here


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