Hatred on Campus

January 2004

My view of the pro-Palestinian group Al-Awda is at least as negative as that of York University professor and letter writer Eric Lawson's. However, I think he is mistaken in condemning the University of Toronto's reversal of its earlier refusal to allow this group to hold a conference on campus. As an institution, a university's primary commitment is the search for truth, and this commitment requires that as long as they are open to criticism, all views are entitled to consideration. In other words, the academic community (students and faculty, and the organizations that represent them) should control the form, but not the content, of the discussion.

When in March, 2003, York University president Lorna Marsden ensured that Daniel Pipes would be heard on campus, she was following this principle. In contrast, York 's Federation of Students and its Faculty Association advocated preventing Dr. Pipes from being heard on the grounds that he had a "racist agenda." I hope that as individuals, both students and faculty understand the content/form distinction, and deal with positions they consider not only mistaken but immoral by censuring rather than trying to censor them.