Sunday, July 28

York University What The Hell Is Your Problem Violating Students Right To Protest

A video showing York University Board Members walking out on students as they protested the University’s policies recently surfaced on YouTube and SAIA’s Facebook page.
The caption at the beginning of the video reads:
“On June 24, 2013, members of Students Against Israeli Apartheid at York University in Toronto attended the Board of Governors meeting to express their concerns regarding the University’s investments in weapons manufacturing companies and the University’s recent undemocratic decision to ban York alumnus and activist Hammam Farah from campus and revoke SAIA’s student club status.”
Talking to Muslim Gazette, SAIA member Hammam Farah said “The admin waited until school was out for the summer and then proceeded to issue me a trespass notice for one year and to revoke SAIA’s student club status until Jan 2014. They also issued threatening letters to individual students who spoke at our protest.”
“We held a protest on March 27 to celebrate the passing of BDS resolutions at the student unions. We also demanded that York now listen to the call of students to divest from weapons manufacturing companies and Israeli apartheid. We held the protest in Vari Hall where protesting was banned, in order to reclaim student space and pressure the York administration to respect freedom of speech and assembly. Also to amend or revoke relevant policies,” he added.
Students who represented different clubs like the YU Black Students’ Alliance, the Middle Eastern Students’ Association and the Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance (UKPC) were also part of the protest.
SAIA responded to their ban by starting a public campaign which included releasing public letters from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Ontario Civil Liberties Association condemning York administrators and an online petition.
“We are also going to deliver a strongly worded letter of condemnation to VP Students Janet Morrison who revoked Saia’s status,” said Farah.
So far, the group has more than 20 endorsements for the letter, including from high profile BDS groups like USACBI, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoners’ Solidarity group, and the Fatah Youth Movement from the West Bank.
After the video was taken, a York administrator told SAIA that they would have to make an appointment with York University President Mamdouh Shoukri to discuss their grievances. The group is now awaiting Shoukri’s response.
The York administration claims that the decision was taken due to the disruption of classes caused by the group’s activities, and proceeded to say that SAIA needs to be more “civilised”.
In their letter condemning the University’s actions, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association stated “(their policy) either inhibits the exercise of free speech altogether, or allows administrators to pick and choose which demonstrations to allow and which to label as breaches of the code…”
Here are the links to the OCLA and CCLA letter:
For updates like SAIA’s page on Facebook – Link
You can sign on to the petition here
With special thanks to Hammam Farah and SAIA

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