The Academic Alliance Against Antisemitism, Racism, Colonialism & Censorship in Canada (ARC) Call To Action & Emergency Statement on Academic Freedom and Critical Scholarship.
The executive of CUPE 3903 share the Academic Alliance Against Antisemitism, Racism, Colonialism & Censorship in Canada’s (ARC) concerns about the widespread suppression of critical speech and academic freedom on Palestine and Israel in the past week not only in Canada, but across much of the West. We are concerned that our university administrations are ill-equipped to address the pressures being placed on them by various third parties (including governments, the media, and organizations) to suppress academic freedom. These concerns have reached critical levels with York University’s President Rhonda Lenton demanding that three democratically elected student executives committees step down or risk the university administration withdrawing recognition of the unions as reprisals for a joint statement the student unions made supporting Palestine.
CUPE 3903 condemns this egregious overreach by the University administration, which undermines the democratic integrity of the student unions and harshly punishes critical decolonial student voices. CUPE 3903 supports the rights of academics, students, unionists and activists to speak out against all forms of violence and oppression without fear of intimidation or reprisal. We echo ARC in demanding that universities must reject the censorship of critical and engaged scholarship on Israel and Palestine that effectively serve to undermine the anti-racist and decolonization efforts they claim to support.
We reiterate our on-going demands from our Statement of Solidarity with Palestine and Student Activists that the university administration ceases their intimidation of student and worker activists, and protect students and workers from external intimidations. That the University commits to no reprisals or disciplinary actions for students and workers showing solidarity with Palestine. And, that they divest from weapons and arms manufacturing, an industry that directly sustains further violence against Palestinians.
We are joining the ARC in calling on all faculty associations, contract faculty unions, as well as teaching and research assistant unions across the country to join us in taking a proactive stance and immediately pass the following motions:
CUPE 3903 unequivocally supports the academic freedom of its members. This freedom includes the right to pursue research and open inquiry in an honest search for knowledge that is free from institutional censorship, including that of the government.
CUPE 3903 acknowledges that the freedom from political and institutional censure is especially critical at times of war and conflict where scholarly voices are an important corrective to widespread disinformation campaigns.
CUPE 3903 supports the anti-racist and decolonial initiatives in Canadian educational institutions and opposes anti-Palestinian racism, antisemitism and Islamophobia along with all forms of racism and hatred. We will strive to ensure our members are free from experiencing bigotry and hate in our classrooms and campuses.
CUPE 3903 is committed to protecting the security and safety of all scholars who are targeted because of their scholarship and political work. We call upon our institutions to implement measures to safeguard our members.
CUPE 3903 acknowledges that targeted attacks against scholars who support the Palestinian struggle have a chilling effect on the academic freedom of our members in the classroom, in their research, and in campus politics more broadly. These repressive tactics must be challenged, and scholars must be free from all forms of recrimination and harassment that may occur due to the nature of their research.
We urge everyone to please read the ARC’s full statement here.