Welcome back to a new year at the law school! SLS is looking forward to another semester of serving the student interests and creating an inclusive and welcoming environment. We would like to take this opportunity to comment on some events that took place last semester.
Last semester, the University of Toronto’s St. George campus experienced discord and upheavals that gave many of us cause for concern. Though we are often insulated from events outside of our Faculty, members of the SLS recognize that our law students are implicated both as fellow members of the broader student community and as members of the groups affected by these events.
The fundamental value to freedom of speech and academic freedom in a democratic society should not be understated. However, appeals to the free discourse of ideas cannot be used to justify discrimination against others on the basis of their individual identities. This is what we feel took place through toxic statements, events, and demonstrations in the fall of 2016.
The SLS stands in solidarity with transgender students who were victims of transphobic hate speech and death threats. The SLS also stands with Jewish students who were victims of anti-Semitic acts of vandalism across campus property.
Further, the SLS stands with black students seeking greater equity on campus and welcomes the UTSU to continue the conversation with the Black Students Association at the University of Toronto and ensure black student voices and perspectives are integrated in UTSU’s activities.
We hope that the University of Toronto will act in the future to prioritize students. Only in a safe, inclusive, and welcome campus for all students, can we truly enjoy the benefits of constructive dialogue and free speech about ideas and goals. We welcome and await the results of the University of Toronto’s fact-finding inquiry into the events that occurred on St. George campus last fall.