York revokes Hillel & SPHR student privileges for one week

York has decided to ban Israeli and Palestinian student activities for a week due to past, noisy demonstrations, reported the Globe and Mail, Mar.23. York Media Relations Director Nancy White said, “We’re really disappointed in the behaviour of these groups. They’re not allowed to be in Vari Hall, period. They know the rules on that and they broke [them].” The university administration has sent letters of reprimand both to the pro-Israeli group Hillel and to Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights. For the rest of the week, the groups are not allowed to act as host to any events at the university, something they actively participate in. White said the university hasn’t ruled out further disciplinary action. Police didn’t have to intervene and there were no injuries, White said. Still, this was a “premeditated clash,” which the university cannot condone, especially inside a building that held classes. “We have to as a university allow students to demonstrate in the interest of free speech,” White said. “But there are classrooms there. They were being noisy. That was the wrong place to do it. They should have stayed in their own areas,” she added. Yesterday’s Toronto Star, CP Wire and Broadcast News also reported on the story, and the National Post ran an opinion column on the limits of free speech on campus.

Sharon’s gamble

David Dewitt, York University political science professor and Middle East expert, was quoted in the March 23 The Globe & Mail, where he supported the contention that hitting Hamas hard would also strengthen Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s hand against hard-line allies in Israel. “It would strengthen his domestic political position and allow him to move forward in ways some of his supporters don’t like,” said Dewitt. He was responding to the contention that Israel’s assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin may help pave the way for its unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and bolster Sharon. Dewitt noted Sharon may also hope that if he can weaken Hamas, the fortunes of the group’s moderate rivals will be boosted, along with the chances of a return to serious negotiations on full Palestinian statehood.

Iacobucci resignation a surprise

Jamie Cameron, law professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, was quoted in The Globe & Mail March 23, as saying she was “stunned” by the resignation of Justice Frank Iacobucci, who announced his retirement from the Supreme Court of Canada, thereby creating a second vacancy on the court amid a heated political debate over the way top judges are appointed. Justice Louise Arbour is also leaving, to take up a UN post in Europe. “Justice Iacobucci produces a tremendous number of decisions and writes in all fields of law. To lose two such productive members at the same time is going to be very hard for the court,” said Cameron.

On Air

  • A plaque was given to Shalom-Salam, a student group at York University, reported Omni News (OMNI.2) March 22. Shalom-Salam is a group whose aim is to provide an alternative forum for discussion about Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one where supporters of both sides can meet to foster better relations and build bridges in a positive atmosphere. The group numbers over 100 members and has an executive with equal representation of po-Palestinian and pro-Israeli students.
  • On March 22, computer science professor Michael Jenkin, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Pure & Applied Science, spoke with Newsnet Midday (CTV-N1); CKY-TV, Winnipeg; CFCF News and CFCF-TV, Montreal, on how Canadian technology is making a splash with the world’s first remote controlled amphibious robot AQUA. AQUA is the result of a unique collaborative effort by a Canadian research team led by Jenkin, whose area of expertise is the robot’s complex vision system. The York contingent includes Andrew Hogue and Arlene Ripsman, two York University graduate students in computer science, and researcher Jim Zacher, project scientist with York’s Centre for Vision Research.