Students at the University of Ottawa on Sunday evening rejected a motion by the Student Federation of UOttawa (SFUO) to advance the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement on campus. This was the third such vote in the last six months, all of which failed to reach the two-thirds threshold needed to pass.
“I am pleased to announce that for a third time, the motion was defeated.
Thanks to our partners, and most importantly to our students who demonstrated tremendous fortitude and again mobilized, showing outstanding leadership and character,” said Andrea Freedman, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa in a message to the Jewish community. “Our students are fighting a difficult battle and they are doing so on behalf of everyone who values dialogue, debate and diversity. Yasher Koach to these amazing students!”
While the university’s administration generally refrains from commenting on Student Federation business, the President and Vice-Chancellor President Jacques Frémont on Monday issued a strong denunciation of the BDS campaign.
“This issue is divisive and a detriment to an open and welcoming campus environment,” said Frémont. “The University of Ottawa will have no part of the BDS movement nor any movement that boycotts academic institutions.”
Freedman expressed deep appreciation to Frémont for issuing this statement and added that the university’s support means a great deal for Jewish students.
“Knowing that the university’s administration understand the challenges they have faced goes a long way to help them feel safe and included on campus.”
President of Hillel Ottawa, Eyal Podolsky, decried the SFUO actions and explained the BDS campaigns have resulted in galvanizing pro-Israeli students.
“This barrage of BDS votes has done two things, it has wasted an incredible amount of the SFUO’s resources, and it has also unified and strengthened the pro-Israel and Jewish community on campus. Yasher Koach to my friends and peers who have continued to stand up for what is right,” Podolsky said.
Podolsky and other leaders at Hillel Ottawa, with the support of their partners The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), the Chabad Student Network, and Jewish Federation of Ottawa, have been working incredibly hard to inform and mobilize students about these votes, while still holding regular programming. In fact, Hillel hosted a Shabbat dinner for more than 100 students on Friday evening.
The Director of Hillel Ottawa, Dovi Chein, added his gratitude to students:
“We are incredibly grateful to the students who took time away from their studies for the third time this year to fight this discriminatory initiative. Boycotting Israel denigrates the very identity of Jewish students. On this basis alone, no responsible student government should ever endorse BDS and we are hopeful this third rejection settles the matter at uOttawa once and for all.”
This vote marks the 11th defeat over the past two years of BDS on Canadian campuses. Similar votes have failed at the University of Toronto, twice, the University of Waterloo, the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and now three times at UOtttawa.