UW students vote against cutting ties with Israeli institutions

Students voted Jan. 28 on whether the university should cut ties with Israeli academic institutions. The referendum resulted in 2,329 students voting against cutting ties while 1,803 students voted in favour.

“To me, winning reinforces my high opinion of, and respect for, UWaterloo and its students. The fact that so many students came together to support academic freedom really speaks about the amazing values that we all share. It really makes me proud to say that I'm a student at UW,” said Ila Sucholutsky, of the No committee and President at UW Apprentice, via email.

The referendum began as 4,000 students came out to sign a petition in October 2015 asking the university to reconsider its partnership with five Israeli universities: University of Haifa, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Technion Israel Institute of Technology, Tel Aviv University, and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

“If anti-Israel activists at UW genuinely cared about peace, they would have proposed initiatives that bring the two sides together in dialogue, reconciliation, and co-operation. Instead, they chose to pursue a one-sided, punitive, and discriminatory effort to isolate Israeli academics,” Sucholutsky said.

Initiated by Ethical Collaboration UW, an offshoot of WPIRG, the Yes committee began their campaign to sever ties in order to address barriers to education faced by the Palestinian community in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

“We think this campaign brought our campus together and we appreciate students engaging in this issue so deeply. We're incredibly glad to have had this conversation on our campus. Speaking with thousands of individuals, students have proven to us that they care and that they are capable of making decisions for themselves about the nature of our collaborations,” said Mishkatt Kirmani of the Yes committee.

Had the vote gone through, the university wouldn’t be obligated to end their relationship, nor would they have to reconsider their stance. Rather, Feds would have had to take on a stronger position, advocating to the university administration to sever ties.

While the referendum may be over, the No committee still has one more goal to achieve as a part of their campaign.

“I'll be involved in hosting activities whose purpose is to bridge the rift that this referendum aimed to create on campus by dividing the student body,” Sucholutsky said.

 For the future, the Yes committee has no plans to pursue any more campaigning.

“We have no decision on future plans at the moment. The goal of the referendum was to bring awareness to the ethical nature of our ties and we have surpassed that goal,” Kirmani said. 


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