OPEN LETTER FROM SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY FACULTY AND STAFF OPPOSING THE TSSU “BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT, AND SANCTIONS” REFERENDUM

We, members of the Simon Fraser University community, come from a variety of backgrounds, fields and political perspectives. Although our personal and political views differ, we recognize that the free flow and exchange of ideas is essential to a healthy academic culture and a vibrant campus life. To this end, we believe that students and scholars must work diligently to ensure that critical and dissenting voices are heard and individuals from all backgrounds are welcomed.

With this letter, we join together to voice our opposition to the upcoming Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” referendum. The proposed sanctions, to be written into the TSSU bylaws, include the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The question will come to a vote on May 15-19, 2017. We recognize TSSU members’ right to self-governance, in particular, their exclusive right to determine their bylaws. We are writing not to interfere with their governance, but rather to express concerns that their proposed bylaw changes are in conflict with the core values of both the TSSU and Simon Fraser University.

Our opposition rests on the following grounds:

– We believe that academic boycotts are antithetical to the principles of academic and scientific freedom and to the principles of freedom of expression and inquiry, and constitute discrimination based on national origin.

– We believe that the targeting of Israeli academic institutions – known as bastions of liberal discourse, technological innovation, and scholarly talent – aims to silence one of the most progressive elements in Israeli society and serve as an obstacle in the road to peace, limiting opportunities for cooperation among Israeli, and Palestinian and other individuals, institutions, and organizations.

– We believe that boycotting Israeli academic institutions serves as an obstacle in the road to peace by limiting opportunities for dialogue and cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian individuals, institutions, and organizations.

– We believe that the selective targeting of Israel for boycotts in a world that is replete with conflicts and unsettled land claims is discriminatory.

Supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement protest that they merely target institutions rather than individual Israeli academics. However, in the words of Professor Cary Nelson, former head of the American Association of University Professors, “that line will be impossible to draw… Individual academic freedom cannot survive such institutional boycotts intact.”

We urge TSSU members to VOTE NO in this referendum, and we appeal to SFU students, faculty, staff and university administrators to defeat and denounce calls and campaigns for academic boycotts against Israel. Rather than adopting counter-productive and discriminatory boycott measures, we urge the TSSU to consider ways it can promote Israeli-Palestinian academic cooperation as a building block of peace and coexistence.

– Rachel MacKay Altman, Statistics & Actuarial Science

– David Lank, Biological Sciences

– Rina Zazkis, Faculty of Education

– Charles Krieger, Biomedical Physiology & Kinesiology

– Stephen Robinovitch, Biomedical Physiology & Kinesiology

– David Goodman, Retired Biomedical Physiology & Kinsesiology

– Kieran Egan, Education

– Julian Guttman, Biological Sciences

– Francesco Berna, Archaeology

– Jeff Sugarman, Education

– David Kaufman, Education

– Alexander Vedrashko, Beedie School of Business

– Jack Martin, Department of Psychology

– Philip Winne, Education

– Gloria Gutman, Gerontology

– Dana Lepofsky, Archaeology

– Ken Lertzman, Resource and Environmental Management

– Irving Rootman, Gerontology

– Lillian Zimmerman, Gerontology Research Centre, retired

– Daniel Leznoff, Chemistry

– Nancy Forde, Physics

– Amir Rubin, Beedie School of Business

– Michael Silverman, Biology

– Fabio Feldman, Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology

– Adam Horvath, Education

– Ian Bercovitz, Statistics and Actuarial Science

– Douglas Allen, Economics

– A. Alexander Moens, Political Science

– Nils Bruin, Mathematics

– Avi Bick, Beedie School of Business

– Michael Monagan, Mathematics

– Mark Collard, Archaeology 

– Tom Archibald, Mathematics

– Norm O’Rourke, IRMACS Centre 

– Jiguo Cao, Statistics & Actuarial Science 

– Martin Ester, Computer Science 

– Ronald Ydenberg, Biosciences 

– Richard Lockhart, Statistics & Actuarial Science

– Brenda Morrison, Criminology

– Justin Gray, Mathematics

– Michael Plischke, Physics

– Liangliang Wang, Statistics and Actuarial Science

– Dave Campbell, Statistics and Actuarial Science

– Nadine Schuurman, Geography

– Lynne Bell, Criminology 

– Uwe Glasser, Computing Science

– Barbara Sanders, Statistics and Actuarial Science

– Ryan D’Arcy, Engineering Science and Computing Science 

– Don DeVoretz, Economics

– Lannie Kanevsky, Education

– Caroline Wakelin, Beedie School of Business

– John Nesbit, Education

– Byron Gates, Chemistry

– Melinda Aikin, Gerontology

– Razvan Fetecau, Mathematics

– Cheryl Amundsen, Education

– Alexander Rutherford, Mathematics & BDH

– Marni Mishna, Mathematics

– Martin Andresen, Criminology

– Alexander Karaivanov, Economics

– Heesoon Bai, Education

– Carol Zachs, SFU International

– Ann Chinnery, Education

– Natalia Gajdamaschko, Education

– Peter Ruben, Biomedical Physiology & Kinesiology

– William Angus Cupples, BPK

– Allan MacKinnon, Education

– Steeve Mongrain, Economics

– Stephen Easton, Economics

– James Marcia, Psychology

– Carl Schwarz, Statistics an Actuarial Science

– Erin Barley, Biological Sciences

– Mark Drew, Computing Sciences

– John Bechhoefer, Physics

– Howard Trottier, Physics

– John Clague, Earth Sciences

– Lucy LeMare, Education

– Paul Neufeld, Education

– Peter Liljedahl, Education

– Diana Cukierman, Computing Science

– Roger Frie, Education 

– John Edgar, Computing Science

– Charles Walsby, Chemistry

– Stephen Campbell, Education

– Sean Magee-Teitlebaum, School of Public Policy

-Jean-François Bégin, Statistics & Actuarial Sciences

– Loren Kaake, Chemistry

– Leonid Chindelevitch, Computing Sciences

– Boris Shabash, Computing Sciences

– Paul Percival, Chemistry

– Nathalie Sinclair, Education

– Nishanth Marthandan, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

– Jack Davis, Statistics and Actuarial Science

– Harinder Khangura, Computer Science

– Michelle Nilson, Education