The YUFA Executive Committee at its meeting on December 8, 2023, endorsed the statement below that was passed by the Steward’s Council.
The YUFA Steward’s Council demands the reinstatement of our colleagues – faculty, students, and staff – that York University has unilaterally placed on leave because they have been accused of engaging in peaceful protest, an accusation that carries with it the even more spurious charge of being “hate-motivated.”
We expect, at a minimum, that York University will respect due process, including the core value of the presumption of innocence. A University, more than other institutions, should require substantive evidence before engaging in any disciplinary or non-disciplinary reprisals.
We further expect, at a minimum, that the University will foster and contribute to informed public debate on the substantive meaning of academic freedom and provide safe spaces for its articulation. We categorically reject the logic of community safety that serves as a rationale for the suspensions of our colleagues. Rather than a neutral position, the decision to suspend our colleagues based on unproven allegations actively contributes to the narrative that our colleagues present a danger and, therefore, must be separated from the institution in the name of safety. The University has, meanwhile, maintained silence as our colleagues have been doxxed, including through mainstream media, a silence that violates its unique obligation to uphold, protect, and promote academic freedom.
As an institution of higher learning, York University has a bold mission statement and vision that values, among other things, “cultivating the critical intellect”, “exploring global concerns”, “academic freedom”, and “social justice” which, in combination, are intended to create a “learning environment committed to the public good.” To these ends, the University follows a collegially developed Academic Plan that prioritizes a “progressive approach”, “diversity and inclusivity”, and that is “passionate about advancing social justice and equity.” The YUFA Stewards’ Council is committed to these collegial values. We demand, at a minimum, that our administrators vigorously uphold and defend the same.