Universities Are Betraying Their Central Mission

by E Wayne Ross on March 26, 2009

This poster for Israeli Apartheid Week was taken down by staff at Carleton University & the University of Ottawa.

CAUT Bulletin: Universities Are Betraying Their Central Mission

Over the past few weeks, CAUT has become aware of a number of disturbing cases in which university administrations have limited or suppressed debate on controversial issues. Whether it is banning posters or noisy demonstrations, we believe such heavy-handed actions constitute a clear threat to the purpose of post-secondary education.

Not surprisingly, the failures involve bitterly contentious issues. One is Middle East politics. Last month Carleton University and the University of Ottawa banned a student organization poster for Israeli Apartheid Week because the universities felt it too provocative. The poster, by noted political cartoonist Carlos Latuff, shows a stylized Israeli warplane firing a missile at a child holding a teddy bear and standing on ground emblazoned with the word “Gaza.” York University has gone even farther, invoking a noise policy to justify handing club suspensions and fines to student organizations that held counter-protests for and against Israeli