October 18, 2023
Dear Osgoode students, faculty, and staff:
I write further to our earlier communications unequivocally denouncing the attacks against civilians in Israel and expressing my support for the many members of our community who continue to be impacted and traumatized by the terror attacks by Hamas in Israel and by the brutal realities of the ensuing warfare and the ongoing overall conflict. We are heartbroken by the loss of life and the escalation of violence in the Middle East and our thoughts are with all those who are suffering, especially those in Israel and Gaza. We are also deeply concerned by the unfolding humanitarian crisis. In line with statements from the Prime Minister of Canada and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, we stand with members of the international community calling for universal respect for international humanitarian laws and the laws of war, and fully support the global efforts to provide aid to Palestinian civilians in the context of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
We continue to strongly denounce any forms of hate or violence, particularly in an environment where overtly hateful statements and acts are being directed at members of our community, and where we are seeing increased evidence of antisemitism, islamophobia, anti-Arab and other forms of hate and violent speech in public discourse. As we have consistently stated, the important rights and privileges of free speech, free association and academic freedom are central to modern universities and cornerstones of democracy, and they need to be valued and protected at all times, both in times of peace and in times of conflict. Universities and society depend on those rights and privileges. Further, York has forcefully stated that membership in our university community also comes with responsibilities. York is committed and acting to create an inclusive and respectful environment where all community members feel safe and welcome without fear of intimidation or harassment.
Over the past number of days, there have been strong views expressed about the communications from York University, which includes Osgoode Hall Law School. Many people have expressed to us that we have been strongly and appropriately vocal and supportive, some think we have said too much, and others think we have not said enough. One thing we have not done is stay silent or inactive. Some of our communications that have been put out by the university on behalf of all of its faculties and departments, including Osgoode, can be found here:
- York University post on X – October 8, 2023
- York University Message to the Community on the war in the Middle East – October 10, 2023
- A Statement on behalf of York University – October 13, 2023
- A Message for the York Community – October 14, 2023
- A Community Update: Our Shared Responsibility – October 18, 2023
Additionally, we have been working day and night to communicate with individuals and groups within our university community, to provide updates on security developments and our community-driven approach to safety, to check in on people and families, and to provide as much support as we can to everyone within our university community, which we will continue to do.
As I’ve said before, we understand that many of you continue to be concerned for your safety and are managing difficult and in some cases tragic circumstances and losses. Your expressions of concern and support have been extremely helpful and impactful. Osgoode will continue to work with our York partners to provide as much support and security as we can.