Writings & Statements

Varsity Victory!

Dear supporters,  After more than four months of an unprecedented international campaign and academic censure, the University of Toronto administration finally offered the position of director of its International Human Rights Program in the Faculty of Law, to Dr. Valentina Azarova. This was a key condition for lifting the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT)…

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Submission to the Advisory Group on Professional/Managerial (PM) Staff Roles Administering Professional Experiential Education Programs  

Members of the University community who deliver professional experiential educational programs have a right to academic freedom, which is defined as the freedom to examine, question, teach and learn, and the right to investigate, speculate and comment without reference to prescribed doctrine, as well as the right to criticize the University and society at large.

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Freedom of Expression and the Cromwell Inquiry

The University has consistently maintained that only academics and librarians are protected by freedom of speech, and not clinical directors or other non-academic personnel. This view was echoed in the Cromwell Report on the Azarova de-hiring. It is manifestly incorrect. Governing Council’s “Statement on Freedom of Speech”, of which senior University administrators must be aware,…

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Academic Freedom and Anti-Racism

As a Black faculty member at the University of Toronto who is outraged by the University administration’s actions in the Law School scandal, I was glad to read Masha Gessen’s recent analysis of it in the New Yorker. Most of it is excellent, highlighting core issues of human rights, donor influence and academic freedom that…

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Remembrance of Things Not Past

The scandal in the University of Toronto Law Faculty shows us the doom of repeated history.    Twenty five years ago on May 24, 1996, my colleagues and I entered a struggle for academic freedom at U of T Medicine confronting the power of a billionaire donor to the University.  A few years later the scandal of Dr. David Healy,…

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Academic Freedom Remains an Urgent Matter at the University of Toronto

Anver M. Emon, Mohammad H. Fadel, Ariel Katz, Trudo Lemmens, Jeffrey MacIntosh, Denise Reaume, David Schneiderman— Professors of Law, University of Toronto

Canadian Federal Tax Court Judge David Spiro was asked to do a small task that ended up having large consequences. A staff member from the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), an organization on which Spiro previously served as director, asked him to contact the University of Toronto and ‘through quiet discussions’ warn ‘top university officials’ not to hire Dr Valentina Azarova to the post of Director of the International Human Rights Program (IHRP because of her academic work. Her references, which included Jewish and Israeli professors of international law, confirmed that her work on the Israeli occupation of Palestine territories fell squarely in the realm of mainstream, excellent international legal scholarship. Her scholarship, warned an unidentified professor in a memo to CIJA, rendered her ‘academically unworthy.’ If followed through, the professor wrote, her appointment ‘would do major damage to the university, including in fundraising.’ Within 48 hours and over a holiday weekend, the Dean of Law, Edward Iacobucci, subverted the process and put an end to Dr. Azarova’s career at the University of Toronto.

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