The Student’s Society of McGill University’s (SSMU) Board of Directors on Monday rejected a discriminatory motion by the SSMU’s Legislative Council that called for the resignation of Jewish student and SSMU councilor Jordyn Wright. The motion had called for Wright’s resignation because she agreed to participate in a trip to Israel.
The story came to light after Wright described what happened in a post on her Facebook page, noting that she was the only student facing dismissal from the Board of Directors despite the fact that two other Board members who are not Jewish had also planned on going on the trip.
The SSMU Board of Directors’ decision came after widespread condemnation of the motion, including from the administration of McGill itself.
McGill’s Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning), Fabrice Labeau, said in an email sent to McGill students on Monday that the SSMU's decision fostered “a culture of ostracization” and that it is “contrary to the university's values of inclusion, diversity and respect.”
Rabbi Reuben Poupko, Co-Chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs-Québec (CIJA-Québec), on Tuesday welcomed the SSMU’s rejection of the motion to dismiss Wright.
“CIJA applauds the SSMU Board of Directors for unequivocally rejecting the Legislative Council’s discriminatory motion targeting a Jewish student leader. Since last Thursday, hundreds of students have denounced the motion, while McGill University’s Deputy Provost for Student Life and Learning, Fabrice Labeau, took an exemplary stand in a message to the McGill community by stating that the motion was ‘contrary to the University’s values of inclusion, diversity and respect’ and that it ‘represents a very serious breach of trust’. He called on the student government to ‘take proper action,’” said Rabbi Poupko.
“Discrimination, racism, and any attempt to ostracize students based on their identity have no place on campus, or anywhere else for that matter. CIJA will proudly continue to provide support to our partners at Hillel and the courageous students who are addressing these instances of discrimination from the front line,” he added.
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) also commended the McGill administration on Tuesday for standing up for Wright.
“We commend McGill University for recognizing the seriousness of this situation and sending a message that discrimination and singling out students for their beliefs will not be tolerated on campus,” said FSWC president and CEO Avi Benlolo.
“As we witness a growing trend on Canadian university campuses of students targeting and attacking Jewish students simply because of their connection to Israel, it is up to administration to step up and take immediate steps to ensure the rights of all students are protected as well as respect and tolerance is maintained,” he added.
In a letter to McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier on Monday, FSWC had expressed concern over the SSMU Legislative Council motion, calling it a “thinly veiled pretense for removing a Jewish student with pro-Israel views from the council.”