Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) on Wednesday welcomed the University of Toronto’s decision to withhold funds from the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) over its financial support for the antisemitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
U of T Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr announced that the university would be withholding $10,918 in student fees from the GSU, the amount that would have been allocated to the BDS caucus.
The decision came more than a year after the Complaint and Resolution Council for Student Societies (CRCSS) ruled that the GSU must immediately cease using compulsory student fees to promote the antisemitic BDS movement, finding the student union's BDS caucus violated the school’s Anti-Discrimination Policy by engaging in discrimination based on nationality. The CRCSS had upheld a complaint made by Jewish graduate student Chaim Katz, whose campaign against GSU was supported by B’nai Brith Canada.
“This incredibly important decision by the University of Toronto sends a clear message that the BDS movement is discriminatory,” said Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, FSWC Director of Policy. “Student unions should be using funds to support students, not discriminatory initiatives that feed hatred and hostility toward Jews on campus. This is a good step by the university, but it must take further decisive action to deal with its pervasive on-campus antisemitism problem, including adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism.”
The University of Toronto has been in the headlines several times in recent years in relation to anti-Israel conduct.
Just last month, the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) voted to endorse a BDS motion that called on the union to “wholly divest funds and further on forbid investment to firms complicit in the occupation of Palestinian Territory.”
In 2020, B’nai Brith Canada condemned CUPE 3902, a labor union at U of T, following a series of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic tweets issued by its official Twitter account.
This past November, the University of Toronto at Scarborough (UTSC) student union passed two motions which eliminate funding for student groups that support Israel. Following backlash, the university walked back the controversial move.