The results of a recent investigation into the events of the October 23 SSMU General Assembly found that anti-Semitism was not a factor in the dismissal of a Jewish student representative from the SSMU Board of Directors. These results have been met with varying opinions from different groups within the McGill Jewish community.
The report was conducted by former Ombudsperson for Students, Dr. Spencer Boudreau. Boudreau was mandated by Principal Fortier to “undertake a thorough identification and examination of the facts of the events of October 23, 2017, for the purpose of determining whether the facts substantiate the allegation of an incident of anti-Semitism.” Noah Lew, one of the three directors not ratified to the Board on October 23, claimed as much in a Facebook status that has since gone viral.
In a joint public statement, Chabad at McGill, Am McGill, Hillel McGill, JLIC at Greater Montreal, and the McGill Jewish Studies Students’ Association address the findings: “this report fails to acknowledge the lived experience of Jewish students at McGill, is rife with factual inaccuracies, and appears to condone discrimination against Jewish students at McGill based on the cultural & religious organizations they affiliate with.”
Their statement lists the alleged inaccuracies, including a false timeline of when and how anti-Semitic language was used by the group that mobilized for Lew’s dismissal, claiming: “This [anti-semitic] rhetoric was used to encourage students to vote specifically against Noah Lew. It is under this context that the GA occurred, and the report fundamentally misunderstands this, which alters the entire findings of the report.”
In an email to The Bull & Bear, McGill’s chapter of Independent Jewish Voices commented on the findings of the investigation, writing that they were “glad to see that Boudreau was able to distinguish Zionism from Jewishness and Judaism. Anti-Semitism is a real and pervasive force that shouldn’t be allowed anywhere, but standing against apartheid and ethnic cleansing, as well as those who support it at our university, is not anti-Semitic.”
Mikaela Rath, President of Hillel McGill, stated that “while we appreciate the effort and intent of the report to better understand Jewish students’ concerns, we are disappointed in the results of the investigation. The errors in the investigation – including the timeline of events, the definition used as guidance, and the study referenced – all impacted the validity of the study and its results. The investigator failed to ask many Jewish student groups on campus their opinion of the events surrounding the general assembly, and therefore did not fully hear all Jewish voices on campus. The report’s findings do not represent the experiences and feelings of many Jewish students on campus, and leaves many feeling disheartened with their school and administration. We hope to see further investigation into both this event and the flawed methodology used in the report.”
The report was made public to the McGill community in a February 6 email from Principal Fortier, accompanied by a statement noting that “there is absolutely no place for anti-Semitism at McGill University.”