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Tell U of T to ACT NOW on BDS and Student Fees

U of T’s University College building (The Varsity)

March 2, 2021

TORONTO – B’nai Brith Canada is calling on the University of Toronto to take immediate steps to implement a recent ruling against a mandatory “BDS Caucus” for graduate students.

In a landmark ruling released on Feb. 4, the Complaint and Resolution Council for Student Societies (CRCSS) found that the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) had engaged in discrimination against Israelis based on nationality, in violation of its own Anti-Discrimination Policy. The CRCSS then issued five recommendations to the UTGSU, including making the BDS Caucus student fee refundable and revising its bylaws to prevent boycotts based on nationality. “BDS” is the acronym for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the Jewish state – a movement that the Canadian government has labeled antisemitic.

U of T’s CRCSS instructed the UTGSU to provide a summary of its implementation plans by March 1, and to implement the recommendations within one year.

Instead, at a meeting on Feb. 16, the UTGSU General Council adopted a resolution condemning the CRCSS ruling and pledging not to implement it. UTGSU University Governance Commissioner Lwanga Musisi even threatened to “crush… the CRCSS or anybody like them.”

Section 2 of U of T’s Policy for Compulsory Non-Academic Incidental Fees states that “The University shall continue to collect fees on behalf of student societies only so long as the individual societies operate in an open, accessible and democratic fashion.” The CRCSS repeatedly found that the UTGSU was not operating in accordance with this requirement.

“U of T must immediately withhold the UTGSU’s student fees in order to enforce its own policies and stop ongoing discrimination on campus,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “It is clear that the UTGSU leadership has created and continues to create a hostile atmosphere for Jewish graduate students.

“Any further delay in this respect would be unconscionable. Jewish and Israeli students have been waiting for justice for years.”

The UTGSU is the only student union in Canada that currently forces all members – even Jewish and Israeli students – to fund a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Caucus that uses student fees to attack the Jewish State. With the assistance of B’nai Brith, Jewish graduate student Chaim Katz waged a 5+ year struggle against this injustice, which finally bore fruit with the CRCSS ruling in February.

Please tell U of T that no further delays can be tolerated by emailing President Meric Gertler at [email protected] and Vice-President & Provost Cheryl Regehr at [email protected].