FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 30, 2016
Toronto, ON – On Tuesday, November 29th, 2016, the Ryerson Student Union (RSU) held an Annual General Meeting (AGM) on campus. A student from Hillel Ryerson submitted a motion she had crafted, calling on the RSU to commemorate the annual Holocaust Education Week on campus by hosting events for students of all backgrounds to learn about this dark period in human history.
This student anticipated that her motion might be challenged by some members of the student body who would seek to politicize Holocaust education. She therefore included clauses in her motion that limit the scope of programs such that they focus solely on the genocide of the Jewish people in Europe.
At the general meeting, students voted to amend the motion to propose a week to commemorate all genocides. Hillel students advocated strongly in favour of dedicated programs for each genocide, but were reportedly told that “the Holocaust is not inclusive enough for all students to participate in” and “the majority of Jews on campus would oppose such a motion”.
Once it became clear that the amended motion would likely pass, a group of students staged an informal walk-out, thereby removing quorum from the AGM and blocking any more votes. Hillel students reported seeing several individuals block entranceways to the AGM and intimidate others who tried to enter after the walk-out had happened.
Hillel Ontario is shocked that university students would reject an apolitical week dedicated to Holocaust education, and moreover, that individuals would go as far as to block others from entering the room. It is deeply disturbing to see students engage in such blatant anti-Semitism. While we recognize that this hateful act reflects a fringe group of students, its negative impact on the Jewish campus community cannot be ignored.
Hillel Ontario and Hillel Ryerson will not stand by while our students are intimidated for being Jewish and for advocating in favour of Holocaust Education. We will continue to stand up to anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bigotry, and provide a safe and inclusive environment for Jewish students on campus.
Hillel strives to inspire every Jewish student in Ontario to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning, and Israel.
For more information, please contact:
Associate Director, Advocacy