How refreshing!

Having spent a number of years at a Canadian university, it can often feel that one’s wandering through a parallel world when it comes to politics. Rational thought and reason are often be replaced by misinformed emotional appeal. Even though modern liberalism is generally the status quo in this country, some students still feel that they go against the grain of mainstream society when they buy local organic groceries, attend a Naomi Klein lecture on American “Imperialism”, volunteer under the OPIRG umbrella of “activism” or have a “squat-in” to raise awareness about poverty as they huddle together in their MEC fleece warmed by their Venti Chai Tea Lattes from Starbucks.

Anyway, I almost missed this but I found it heartening to see this release from my Alma Mater. It’s sure to ruffle a few progressive feathers and may inspire another student take-over of the principal’s office.

Statement by Principal Karen Hitchcock on the academic boycott of Israeli universities being considered by Britain’s University and College Union
Friday July 06, 2007

Academic freedom is deeply enshrined in the culture of Queen’s University. Its core tenets – freedom in research and publication, freedom of expression in the classroom and freedom from censorship for speaking out – are basic to the university’s central purpose and ingrained in our history and traditions.

The academic boycott of Israeli universities being considered by Britain’s University and College Union (UCU) is antithetical to the core value of academic freedom, which is cherished by Queen’s and other universities around the world.

Freedom of inquiry and expression carries with it responsibilities – to encourage open debate and dialogue, and to listen to and learn from the views of others. We must defend these freedoms of speech and inquiry even as we engage with those whose views may differ greatly from our own. Contemporary society calls for leadership that respects but can also bridge social, cultural, economic and geopolitical divides. I therefore denounce the actions of the UCU and absolutely reject its approach.

Those of us who devote ourselves to the learning and discovery that characterizes the academy must defend the freedom of individuals to study, teach and carry out research without fear of harassment, intimidation or discrimination.

Accordingly, I join with many of my colleagues from universities around the world in stating that, if the British UCU pursues its ill-advised course, we will have no choice but to ask the British UCU to add our name to their boycott list. We are proud to align ourselves with those who deplore the UCU’s unacceptable attack on the values and principles that define us.

July 6, 2007

As another school year starts, it’s good to see that the adults are still in charge and that the children… only win at sandbox politics.