The University of Toronto says it is “deeply concerned” after four motions that supported an independent Palestinian state were passed by a Scarborough student union meeting on Wednesday. The university’s Governing Council has already been confronted with a similar situation in May, when the Prospecta Union for Palestinian Rights passed four motions calling for divestment from Israel. The Governing Council responded by advising the Prospecta to rescind its resolutions and call off the day-long General Assembly meeting at which they were passed.
The University of Toronto says it has sent a letter to the Scarborough Students’ Union recommending that the motions be rescinded as well. In a letter to the council, the president of the Governing Council, Nadia Ahmed, warns that “such activity undermines efforts to establish a close and constructive partnership between the UN, the Canadian government and the Organization of the Islamic Conference for peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
In a statement, the Scarborough Students’ Union said that the assembly was legally binding and had approved the resolution because the proposed resolutions had been “distorted” by the Prospecta Union and had been pushed at the behest of student groups supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. While the boycott resolution was brought forward by the Prospecta Union, the first two motions signed by more than 75 percent of the delegates at the assembly were all initiated by the Association of Palestinian Students at the University of Toronto (APS).
The extent to which the U of T may have gone to dissuade participants from voting for the pro-Palestinian motions remains unknown, although it is not unusual for student unions to pass resolutions advocating for Israel-related boycotts or sanctions. The U of T Students’ Union has also signed two BDS resolutions. In their letter to the council, the Scarborough Students’ Union says that it is nonetheless reviewing the ramifications of voting for the resolutions and will assess “whether and to what extent, in the future, the resolutions were drafted, facilitated and executed in good faith.”
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