Toronto's York University introduces new accountability measures

New procedures follow external review process after violent protests last November during a program run by a Jewish campus club.

Elad Benari ,

York University, Toronto
York University, Toronto
Reuters

York University in Toronto announced on Tuesday it will be introducing new policies and procedures that aim to ensure students can fully participate in campus life without harassment, intimidation, or violence.

The announcement follows an external review process which was launched after violent protests last November during a program run by a Jewish campus club.

During the event, which featured former IDF soldiers, pro-Palestinian Arab protesters demonstrated and chanted “Viva, Viva Intifada” and “Free, Free Palestine.”

At one point, police were forced to intervene to prevent physical violence and injury.

The violent protest was condemned by several Canadian officials, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, and Roman Baber, Member of Provincial Parliament for York Centre.

The recommendations include measures to enforce distance between protesters and campus events and to impose clear consequences for individuals and groups that do not comply with student codes of conduct. The independent review also called for the university to consider implementing enhanced security arrangements for campus events and adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Definition of Antisemitism.

York University has accepted all of the recommendations put forward in the review process.

Barbara Bank, Chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) in Toronto, welcomed the move.

“Today’s announcement by York University is a welcome step towards ensuring a healthy campus environment. CIJA firmly believes in the right to free expression and the exchange of ideas, but there is absolutely no place for the kind of intimidation and violence our community witnessed last November,” she said.

“CIJA was an active participant in the review process and we are pleased that nearly all of our recommendations are included in the final report. We will be working with York University alongside our campus partner, Hillel Ontario, to support the implementation of these recommendations,” added Bank.

"We thank President Rhonda Lenton for recognizing that York University is not immune from antisemitism, and her commitment to strengthen university policies and procedures to protect the campus community from abhorrent views and actions."

York University has come under criticism in the past over anti-Israel activities on campus. In 2016, Jewish-Canadian businessman Paul Bronfman told the Toronto university to take down a poster promoting violence against Israel or lose his financial support.

In 2013, the York Federation of Students voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution to endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.




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