We join the Ontario Federation of Labour and a growing number of other organizations and individuals in calling for an immediate ceasefire and end to violence in Israel-Palestine, and to end the blockade on Gaza and allow aid to flow into areas where it is desperately needed.
We also join our affiliations, CAUT and OCUFA, in protecting academic freedom and will defend the right of our members to exercise their academic freedom and to engage in public debate, both within and outside of their areas of disciplinary expertise.
We also oppose violence and hate, Islamophobia, antisemitism, and racism in all its forms in all spaces we live and work. Faculty and academic staff, students, and other members of campus communities across the province and country have experienced harassment and threats to their safety in the wake of the violence in Israel-Palestine. We condemn those threats and harassment, and will defend university campuses as safe spaces that encourage critical debate and promote civil rights.
We reject the suppression of critical speech and academic freedom we are currently witnessing, and specifically the recent comments in the Ontario legislature by Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities, wherein she wrongfully accused several Ontario professors of antisemitism and celebrating terrorism, and then urged university administrations to hold them to account.
As such, OCADFA’s Board has accepted the Academic Alliance Against Antisemitism, Racism, Colonialism & Censorship in Canada (ARC) call to action and have adopted the following motions:
- OCADFA 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 government.
- OCADFA 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.
- OCADFA supports the anti-racist and decolonial initiatives in Canadian education institutions and opposes anti-Palestinian racism, antisemitism and Islamophobia along will all forms of racism and hatred. We will strike to ensure our members are free from experiencing bigotry and hate in our classrooms and campuses.
- OCADFA is committed to protecting the security and safety of all academics who are targeted because of their scholarship and political work. We call upon our institutions to implement measures to safeguard our members.
- OCADFA acknowledges that targeted attacks against academics who support the Palestinian struggle have a chilling effect on the academic freedom of our members in the classroom, in their research and creative practice, 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.
In closing, OCADFA will defend the academic freedom of its members to engage in public debate, including on social media, regardless of their areas of disciplinary expertise and regardless of what positions they may take. There are limits to academic freedom: it is not a license to libel someone, to engage in harassment or discrimination, or to violate hate speech. These limits, however, do not preclude vigorous debate, intemperate language, or sharply negative criticism. Academic freedom does not confer immunity from harsh criticism or condemnation, but it is compromised when academics are subject to malicious, libelous, abusing, threatening or harassing speech for exercising their academic freedom. We call on post-secondary administrators to recognize their obligation to uphold academic freedom, and the responsibility of universities and colleges to resist threats to institutional autonomy.