More than 100 professors of the teaching staff at the Canadian McGill University signed an open letter on Monday rejecting the university’s administration’s attempts not to implement a decision adopted by the University Students’ Association for a policy of solidarity with Palestine, which 71% of the university’s students voted for.
The letter was titled “Support for the Student Association and the Policy of Solidarity with Palestine” and was signed by 103 faculty members.
The letter came university administration’s decision that has declined to implement the student associations for the university to boycott companies complicit with the Israeli occupation. the university administration expressed similar intentions earlier in April.
The university administration had announced that it would not ratify the students’ association’s decision under the pretext that it contradicts the university’s constitution and policy.
The letter also highlighted the importance of maintaining independent democratic channels, such as SSMU referenda, for students to push for meaningful change on campus.
Michelle Hartman, professor of Arabic Literature at the Institute of Islamic Studies, told The McGill Tribune in an email that she believes it is important for faculty to support students when the administration attempts to suppress student political activism.
“The attempt to shut down a student union policy like this by a university administration runs against everything a university is meant to do and stand for,” Hartman wrote. “So many professors that I spoke to were outraged about how the university administration responded in such a threatening and heavy-handed way to a student initiative—especially something that is standing for social justice.
She added.”I find it egregious that the administration would try to shut down students engaging in activism and solidarity on one of the most pressing and urgent causes of our time.”
William Clare Roberts, Associate professor of political science, had the same views as of Hartman—he feels the university’s threat to terminate its MOA with SSMU goes against its responsibility to collegial governance. Roberts also noted the significance of demonstrating solidarity with the Palestinian people.
“I’m incredibly proud of the students who brought the resolution to the student body, and of the voters for passing it by such a large margin,” Roberts wrote in an email to the Tribune. “Solidarity with the Palestinian people, and efforts to address their displacement and dispossession by Israel’s apartheid policies, are morally and politically righteous. In no other case are invasion, occupation, and oppression so protected from criticism and opposition.
He followed saying, “No one can deny that Israeli policy is unjust, but the demand to do something about it, to withhold support and cooperation from universities and corporations that collaborate, is always greeted by hysterical reactions.”
SPHR noted in an email statement to the Tribune that faculty and staff support helped maintain the Palestine Solidarity Policy relevant. It also hailed Students’ efforts to promote social justice and human rights.
“[Support from faculty and staff] shows the administration that we are not alone in our indignation towards their threats,” the group wrote. “It moreover demonstrates to the majority of McGill students, who demonstrated their support for the Palestinian liberation struggle in the Winter referendum, that they are supported by academics and professors,” SPHR stated
Frédérique Mazerolle said that the administration’s rejection of the policy is due to McGill’s mission of inclusivity, and that some debates as he described weren’t welcomed for they “create excessive polarization” which he depects as contradictions with the “university’s values of inclusion, diversity, and respect.”