We are writing in response to the recent escalation of rhetoric on the part of the University administration against members of the York community.
We note that a May 28 letter from Vice-Provost Students Lucy Fromowitz threatens Reclaim York University student members with “fines, restitution, and suspension from University” for acts understood to be in contravention of the “University’s policies and health and safety standards.”
We remind members of the administration that the student code of conduct is not designed as a cudgel to be wielded against students engaged in conscionable acts of civil disobedience.
An unsigned open letter to CUPE 3903, dated June 6, threatens recrimination against CUPE members because of purportedly “illegal strike activities,” charges based on undocumented allegations and vague “reports.” The document references “lawful” behavior no less than eight times in a brief page and-a-half.
We protest the representation of dissent as unlawful. We find reprehensible threats of legal sanctions against members of the York community.
We are alarmed by the increasing use of censorious legalisms as a mechanism to quash debate. Such tactics have no place in a university environment.
We deplore the antagonistic tone of these letters. We condemn any reprisals that may be taken, individually or collectively, against community members, and in particular against our students who are already heavily burdened.
We believe such heated rhetoric, coupled to a threat to bring civil or criminal charges against protestors, does little to bring members of our community together and will serve only to harden and deepen divisions. Such an approach only prolongs the impasse and scuttles the possibilities for effective resolution.
In such trying times, we encourage the University to develop approaches that emphasize healing and reconciliation over recrimination.
York University Faculty Association