January 28, 2016 (Waterloo, Ontario) – Today, undergraduate students at the University of Waterloo (UW) voted to reject a referendum calling for the severing of ties between UW and Israeli academic institutions by a vote of 2329 to 1803. The referendum was triggered via a petition presented to the University of Waterloo Federation of Students (FEDs) last year, as part of the larger Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
After a spirited two-week campaign period and three polling days, The FEDs announced the results at the Student Life Centre. By voting against the referendum question, UW students indicated their clear desire to uphold the academic freedom.
Valerie Michailovich, a fourth year student at the University of Waterloo and member of Hillel Waterloo, spoke against the motion: “This is a victory for the academic freedom of all UW students. Israeli universities are world leaders in a range of fields, from medicine to the environment to technology. It would be shameful for a handful of anti-Israel activists – in an effort to impose an extreme political agenda on the entire student body – to block learning opportunities for UW students.”
A second year student, Ilia Sucholutsky, spoke out against the BDS movement while campaigning yesterday. “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 cooperation. Instead, they chose to pursue a one-sided, punitive, and discriminatory effort to isolate Israeli academics. UW students clearly saw through this charade.”
Following the announcement, Marc Newburgh, CEO of Hillel Ontario, lauded the results of the vote. “This decision is an important step toward building a campus community where all students, regardless of their background and identity, feel safe, welcome, and accepted,” he said.
Meryle Kates, Executive Director of StandWithUs Canada commented, “We applaud the students of Waterloo University who rejected bigotry on their campus, and all of the student leaders who worked together so admirably.”
Judy Zelikovitz, Vice President of University and Local Partner Services at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), noted: “UW is just the latest campus to reject BDS and reaffirm strong and mutually beneficial ties with Israelis. This would not have happened were it not for the hard work of students on campus who refused to be silent in the face of this discriminatory movement.”
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Hillel Ontario, and StandWithUs Canada applaud all UW students who worked intensively to get out the vote and defeat this resolution. Together, these organizations remain committed to encouraging and supporting students working to combat antisemitism, anti-Israel hatred, and all other forms of discrimination on campus.