The Regina Public Interest Research Group was disappointed to learn on Monday that posters advertising Israeli Apartheid Week on the public bulletin boards on the U of R campus had been removed by an unauthorized person or persons.
Items posted on the URSU boards are under the supervision of the University of Regina Students’ Union and formal complaints about posters can be made to the appropriate representatives. Circumventing this process and removing posters to stifle debate is not only a strike against free speech. It also degrades the university’s stated values of a “commitment to academic freedom in our work and interaction” and its role to “illuminate socially relevant problems.”
There is much debate over the opinions expressed through Israeli Apartheid Week. RPIRG believes that this debate is vital to a functioning democracy, and decries the silencing of voices on the issue. IAW activities this week are open to all, and include a teach-in, films, and panel discussions, all of which are receptive of diverse opinions. In a university setting, where critical analysis is considered paramount, inquiring minds should be able to engage with divergent ideas and be allowed to form their own opinions. When posters are taken down, this robs students, staff and faculty of the ability to work with these perspectives; this ultimately means opinions may remain poorly-formed or founded, and our local and global community suffers due to less understanding.
The issue is timely given Minister Kenney’s statement yesterday that asserts IAW activities on campuses often “censor other points of view, and limit academic discourse.” RPIRG believes that no one should be silenced from expressing a respectful opinion, and encourages the public to attend IAW activities and respectfully engage with the issues.