Wednesday, March 31, 2010

York U: the Apollo 13 of Academe?

The following 'Open letter from York University' appears in the April 1, 2010 issue of the Canadian Jewish News:
York University has been accused of harbouring and tolerating racist and specifically anti-Semitic behaviour. On the contrary, we condemn those who use the cover of free expression or academic freedom to promote anti-Semitism or any racist agenda.

We reject as an assault on our integrity and on the integrity of the members of the York community, the allegations that we deal with different groups within the student body differently.

The University is a forum for the free exchange of ideas. The free exchange of ideas does not include intimidation and racial discrimination. Nor will we bow to those who demand that we narrow the boundaries of academic freedom. We oppose those who abuse the rights of others.

The York community must be one where its members do not arrive on campus to study or to work in fear of physical assault. The University has taken steps to deal with those who abuse the University's committment to the free exchange of ideas and breach the standards of student behaviour. These steps include increased security, greater power to intercede, and consistent enforcement of policies.

We are not so foolish to believe that we have driven anti-Semitism or any other form of racism from our midst. We know that there will be incidents that will require our viglilance. But we have demonstrate that we have the will to act.

For many who come to our university, York is the first exposure to the world beyond their ethnic communities. York accepts the responsibility of teaching its students how to be citizens in a contemporary, diverse, Canadian society. Our goal is to equip our students with the tools they need in a less than perfect world. And we do so in a way that prepares them to participate responsibly in a global exchange of ideas.
The letter is signed by three York U mucky-mucks: Paul Cantor, Chair, Board of Governors; Celia Haig-Brown, Chair of Senate; and Mamdouh Shoukri, President and Vice-Chancellor. And didn't they (or their communication experts) craft some lovely words? Too bad that's largely all they are--words, spin, the same old lame palaver about "diversity" and "community" and blah blah blah till you just want to scream or maybe find shelter somewhere from the relentless onslaught (which, incidentally, is what some pro-Israel Jewish students were forced to do at York in an attempt to evade the contemporary, diverse crowd of Israel-loathers who demonstrated their will to act by threatening to throttle the Jews to within an inch of their lives; in Europe, back in the day, they used to call such incidents "pogroms"). The fact is that at York U and on other campuses (Provost Houle's institution springs to mind) political correctness exerts such a stranglehold that students are afraid of saying or doing anything untoward--anything that might violate the official and implicit codes of speech and thought. In these little hot house environments, there are only two acceptable targets at which to vent (and thereby let off some steam pent up by the restrictive p.c.): conservatives (like Anne Coulter) and "Zionists". Is it any wonder, then, that the sight of pro-Israel Jews drives many of the (Slamolefty) kids mad?

It remains to be seen if York's heretofore craven administration actually follows through on the promises made in this letter: Since it emphasizes all the usual Trudeaupian blarney, I tend to doubt it. (Sure, it took action against rabid Jew-hater, Salman Hossain, who had transferred from U of T--but, really, what choice did it have after Stewart Bell's article in the National Post made such a big splash?) What most fascinates me is that this is obviously a last ditch effort at damage control, the administration's admission that the university's image had become so tarnished in Jewish eyes that it had no recourse but to reach out in this way to the Jewish community. It's like an academe equivalent of "Houston, we have a problem" (only in this case it's more like "Jewston, we have a problem").

1 comment:

Blazingcatfur said...

Apollo 13 was an accident, York is flame ship