More than 1000 UBC faculty, staff and students have signed an open letter condemning UBC’s October 11 statement on the ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine and calling for a commitment to academic freedom.
As of October 26, over 130 faculty members and 1,175 students and community members have signed the letter.
The letter reads that UBC “remains silent regarding the ongoing state terror committed by Israel against Palestinians,” and the university's statement makes “no reference to Palestine or Palestinians.”
The UBC statement references the October 7 attack by Hamas and the “tragic repercussions in Israel, Gaza and elsewhere.” It also called for “dialogue towards a peaceful resolution.”
The open letter says the continued siege of Gaza by the Israeli military in response to Hamas, which has led to civilian deaths and the displacement and block on humanitarian aid entering Gaza are a "clear violation of international humanitarian law." Limited humanitarian aid has entered the region since the open letter’s publication.
The open letter demands the President’s Office denounce Israeli state violence and provide meaningful support for UBC community members, including preventing harassment and bullying for community members supporting Palestine.
No individual or organization has claimed credit for starting the open letter, and it's unclear exactly who drafted it. The Ubyssey reached out to eight faculty members who were early signees, but were unable to secure a comment before publication time.
The letter said community members should have the academic freedom to teach and learn about Palestine and criticize any state that violates international humanitarian laws.
The university is aware of the petition, according to Matthew Ramsey, director of university affairs at UBC Media Relations.
"The university provided statements on this matter to ensure all of our community members are aware of the resources available to support them and that their well-being is important to us,” wrote Ramsey.
Ramsey said the university will not comment further on the open letter.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.