CUPE 3907 supports the CAUT censure of UofT

We are deeply concerned by the silencing of Palestinian rights advocacy on our campus and workplace. As Palestinians currently undergo increased state-sanctioned violence, ethnic cleansing, and media and political silencing, it is crucial that we stand in solidarity with the Palestinian community. Furthermore, as a labour union, CUPE believes in academic freedom, fair and transparent hiring practices, and the belief that the right person should always get the job. In the most recent case of Dr. Valentina Azarova, academic freedom was not granted and the hiring process was corrupted by politically motivated decision- making to appease wealthy and powerful donors. The result of this was that the right person did not get the job.

For these reasons, the CUPE 3907 Executive Committee fully supports the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ (CAUT) censure of the University of Toronto.

CAUT, which represents 72,000 faculty and academic staff across Canada, has taken the rare and serious decision to censure the University of Toronto. CAUT has determined that the University’s administration failed “to resolve concerns regarding academic freedom stemming from a hiring scandal in the Faculty of Law”. Relying on undisputed evidence contained in a report by Mr. Thomas Cromwell, CAUT concluded that a donor/judge’s objections to Dr. Valentina Azarova, based on her scholarship on Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories, influenced the University’s decision to rescind an offer of a position as Director of the International Human Rights Program. CAUT’s censure vote came one day after a group of Muslim, Arab, and Jewish organizations wrote an open letter to the University of Toronto demanding the reinstatement of the job offer to Dr. Azarova. We stand in solidarity with the CAUT censure in response to UofT’s violation of academic integrity and freedom. 

Censure is a call to collective action. As a local, CUPE 3907 will not be hosting any external guest speakers or special events until this censure is lifted. Furthermore, we call on all members to:

  • Read up and inform yourself about the CAUT censure.
  • Consider cancelling your own events or withdrawing from events with invited speakers by writing to speakers, organizers or the heads of your units informing them of the censure and asking them to respect it.
  • Organize petitions and information sessions within your unit to build momentum for unit-wide adherence
  • Join Jewish, Palestinian, Black, Indigenous and Racialized Faculty Defending Academic Freedom and Supporting a Free Palestine by signing and sharing this petition.
  • Attend one of the events listed below to learn more.

What is a Censure?

A Censure is a sanction in which academic staff are asked not to accept appointments or speaking engagements at the university or elsewhere in the name of the university until changes are made. Think of this as a moment in history when our silence speaks louder than any speaking engagement could.

Why was this the course of action taken?

A Censure is a course of action that requires the university to take notice. As an educational institution known for bringing some of the greatest thinkers together to learn from one another, this sanction directly affects the foundation of the university. It makes us all stop and think about our own academic freedoms and how we can support one another in our jobs as producers of knowledge.

What happens next? 

We plan to stand in solidarity with the CAUT Censure until it is lifted. This in no way should affect your employment. If you find resistance in your workplace for expressing your support for the CAUT censure, please contact our Chief Steward, Wales Wong, at chiefsteward@cupe3907.ca. If you have any questions about the censure or you GAship in relation to the censure please do not hesitate to contact us.

EVENTS

Censuring the Neo Liberal University: Academic Freedom, Donors and Equity.

Thursday, May 20th, 4pm.
A Panel on the Censure of The University of Toronto organized by Scholars Strike Canada. More information (including link) here.

Speakers:
Anver Emon, Professor of Law and History, University of Toronto
Melanie J. Newton, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Toronto
Denise G. Réaume, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto
Dave Robinson, CAUT Executive Director
Hosted by Min Sook Lee and Beverley Bain.

Labour Solidarity and Palestinian Resistance.

Saturday, May 22 at 1:00 PM.
Join Labour4Palestine – Canada* for a webinar and urgent discussion with Palestinian labour leaders and activists on the ground in Jerusalem and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The labour movement in Canada has an important role to play in supporting Palestinian resistance and standing in solidarity with workers and people directly affected. Please register here.

Speakers:
Budour Hassan: Writer and legal researcher for Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights
Riham Abu Aita: Active member of the Palestinian Journalists Union
Jamal Juma: Executive Committee Member of the Palestine New Federation of Trade Unions and Secretariat Member of the Boycott National Committee (BNC)
With introductory remarks from Moe Alqasem: President CUPE 1281

Additional speakers may be announced closer to the date.