SAFS letter to Rector Frederick H. Lowy, and Lillian Vineberg, Chair, Board of Governors, Concordia University

November 22,  2002

Dr.  Frederick H. Lowy
Ms. Lillian Vineberg
Chair, Board of Governors
Concordia University
Montreal, Quebec

Dear Dr. Lowy and Ms. Vineberg:

I am writing to you on behalf of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship. As you know, SAFS represents a broad cross-section of professional academics, students and interested others from across Canada, and elsewhere..  Together, we work to maintain freedom in teaching, research and scholarship, and to maintain standards of excellence within Canadian universities.

In our earlier statement on the anti-free speech riot at Concordia (September 12, enclosed), we condemned the violent actions by hooligans who forced the cancellation of the speech by former Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.  We also stated,  "Although it is understandable that the senior leadership would feel that a cooling-off period might be useful, a prolonged moratorium will send the message that free speech at Concordia University can be hijacked by thugs.  Such an impression must never be given in a free society."

Thus we were pleased to learn that Concordia's Board of Governors voted on Wednesday evening to revoke the moratorium on discussions of events in the Middle East.  We urge you to name a date, as early as possible, on which the moratorium will be officially over, thus restoring free speech on campus.

In our view, we believe that Concordia has now had sufficient time to make the appropriate arrangements to ensure both campus safety and reasoned debate on issues concerning the Middle East.  As you know, free speech is the life-blood of universities.  Without free speech, the work of both students and faculty at Concordia will suffer.  We support you in your efforts to make Concordia University a place where speakers representing numerous points of view, and background, will be
able to speak openly and safely.

As a final note, I would like you to know that one of our Board of Directors, Professor Harvey Shulman, is also a member of the faculty at Concordia.  Accordingly, he did not play any role in the writing of this letter.


Clive Seligman

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