Nov. 16, 2023Print | PDF
Dear Laurier community,
We recognize that the past several weeks have been an extremely difficult time for many at Laurier, and across the world, as we witness unspeakable violence in Gaza and Israel. There are many in our community who have lost loved ones, or are fearing for the safety of family and friends caught in the violence.
Community members have shared with us their despair and horror at the violence taking place in Gaza and the thousands of innocent civilians who have lost their lives and the hundreds of thousands of civilians in humanitarian crisis, who do not have food, water, electricity or shelter.
Community members have also shared with us their pain at the loss of life from the Hamas attack in Israel, and their fears for the hostages who were taken on Oct. 7th.
We share the sorrow and shock of our community at this death and suffering and support efforts to protect all innocent civilians. There are international laws and bodies that outline standards for humane treatment, including the Geneva Conventions. United Nations leaders have called for a ceasefire to allow unimpeded humanitarian access to Gaza, and for Hamas to release all hostages.
Many of our community members have been turning their pain into action – sharing their views, teaching and engaging in dialogue about the conflict, mobilizing to support humanitarian efforts, and participating in protests and vigils.
These are all important activities that take place on a university campus and help people process and understand these events. We unequivocally support everyone’s right to engage in these activities and this is well articulated in our commitments to free expression and academic freedom.
At the same time these important activities are taking place, we have heard from Jewish, Muslim, Palestinian, Israeli and Arab students about experiences that have left them feeling unsettled and unsafe on our campuses. This is not unique to Laurier; it is a troubling trend around the world in these times of heightened tensions.
Let us be clear – there is no place for hate, bigotry or intimidation on our campuses. We condemn antisemitism, Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism. We have a shared responsibility to foster an environment where we respect and protect each other.
Any violations of university policy or the law will have consequences. We encourage everyone to familiarize themselves with Laurier’s Policy on Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination and also the procedures for addressing harassment and discrimination.
Additionally, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our university community, event organizers are strongly encouraged to follow university guidelines for hosting an event on campus. Many people are in pain and emotionally raw right now. It can be easy to assume the worst of people in these circumstances; as you engage in dialogue and protest, we ask that you keep in mind each other’s humanity.
Our thanks to everyone at Laurier who works toward understanding, justice, and peace. It is up to each of us to, individually, do our part to live up to our ideal of being a compassionate and inclusive learning community.
Deborah MacLatchy, PhD
President and Vice-Chancellor
Heidi Northwood, PhD
Provost and Vice-President: Academic