University probe validates Jewish group’s concerns
WINDSOR — A University of Windsor investigation has found serious irregularities with the way a recent boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) referendum was carried out, validating complaints by Jewish students on campus.
The March 2 referendum, sponsored by the Palestinian Solidarity Group, the first such vote among undergraduate students at a Canadian university, passed 798 to 585 amid widespread complaints of abuse of process. University president Alan Wildeman ordered the investigation by Toronto lawyer and former human rights commissioner Raj Anand.
Of five major complaints, “all have been substantiated,” Wildeman said in a letter to students.
One was that there were not enough signatures on the petition to hold the referendum – “at most 404” when 500 were required. Changes in the structure of the student council executive were also in violation of its constitution, resulting in participation by individuals “not entitled” to take part in meetings and votes.
The motion to hold the referendum “occurred without legitimate quorum and involved votes cast by non-members.” And the referendum question itself was “unclear and ambiguous” containing several questions rather than one, therefore in non-compliance with bylaws.
Wildeman said he would discuss “possible next steps” to help “achieve effective student governance.”
The Jewish Students Association applauded the findings calling them a “validation” of the group’s concerns.
In addition, Hillel Ontario executive director Donald Sylvan said “this is not the first time we have seen undemocratic tactics by BDS activists on campus.”
Palestinian Solidarity Group spokesman Mohammed Almoayad said he wasn’t surprised by the letter. “This has been the goal of the administration all alone,” he told the Windsor Star.