University of Western Ontario

Statement on possible boycott of Israeli universities by President and Vice-Chancellor Paul Davenport

June 22, 2007

The boycott of Israeli universities being considered by Britainís University and College Union (UCU) has filled me with profound dismay and disbelief.  Over the last century universities have sought to establish academic freedom as a fundamental value in democratic society, and have fought to protect that freedom from restrictions imposed by government and the greater society.  It is tragic to see a group of academics themselves undermining academic freedom by seeking to condemn and isolate a group of faculty because of the country in which they live. 

Western will continue to encourage its faculty and students to exchange ideas and promote understanding with all the peoples and countries of the world.  That exchange of ideas is at the heart of education, research, and the Universityís contribution to society.  Scholars and students from Israel and all other countries will always be welcome on our campus. 

The UCU website informs us that the vote on the motion was 155 for, 99 against, with 17 abstentions.  The UCU has over 100,000 members, and it is to be hoped that the great majority will reject the boycott as a shameful violation of academic freedom.