University of Guelph

University of Guelph President Alastair Summerlee Says Proposed Boycott Threatens Civil Society

July 13, 2007

The United Kingdom's University and College Union (UCU) congress has passed a motion requiring the union to debate whether to support a Palestinian call for an international boycott of Israeli academic institutions as a way of contributing to the struggle to end Israelís occupation.

A boycott would entail refraining from participating in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects and suspending all forms of funding and subsidies to these institutions.

In response to this motion, President Alastair Summerlee has issued the following statement.

Statement From The President

Civil discourse irrespective of political, religious, moral or ethical views is an absolutely fundamental tenet of universities and university education. It is unacceptable when any group of scholars seeks to suppress the opinions of another. Such action would be an attack on the very principles of universities and must be condemned.

The threatened boycott of Israeli universities by Britainís University and College Union is an inappropriate and unacceptable challenge to the fundamental value of academic freedom. There can be no justification for this proposed demonstration of intolerance.

It is vital that universities should be the moral and social conscience of society. The only way this can be achieved is by maintaining a commitment to open, effective dialogue and respectful debate and civil discourse. In a world that is increasingly expressing intolerance in so many ways, it is disgraceful that any institution or collection of institutions would wish to betray the nature of universities worldwide. The proposed action strikes at the core of our deliberate and precious democratic purpose.

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