York University

York University
York University
Motto Tentanda via (Latin)
Motto in English The way must be tried
Established 1959
Type Public university
Endowment $890 million (CAD)[1]
Chancellor Roy McMurtry
President Mamdouh Shoukri
Admin. staff 7,000
Undergraduates 45,890
Postgraduates 6,140 
Location Toronto, ON, Canada
Campus Urban / suburban,
185 ha (457.14 acres)
Sports teams York Lions
Colours Red and white          
Affiliations AUCC, CARL, IAU, COU, CIS, OUA, CUSID, Fields Institute, Ontario Network of Women in engineering, CBIE, CUP.
Website yorku.ca
YorkU Logo.png

York University (French: Université York) is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[2] It is Canada's third-largest university, Ontario's second-largest graduate school, and Canada's leading interdisciplinary university.

York has a student population of approximately 51,000, 7,000 staff, and 250,000 alumni worldwide. It has ten faculties, including the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Schulich School of Business, Osgoode Hall Law School, Glendon College, the Faculty of Education, the Faculty of Fine Arts, the Faculty of Health, the Faculty of Environmental Studies, and 24 research centres.

York University participates in the Canadian Space Program. The Faculty of Science and Engineering is Canada's primary research facility into Martian exploration and has designed several space research instruments and applications currently used by NASA.[3][4] York has pioneered some of the first PhD programs in Canada, in various fields including women's studies. The school of social work is recognized as having one of the most socially responsive programs in the country. York University's business school and law school have continuously been placed among the top schools in Canada.



York University Faculty, 1961

York University was established in 1959 as a non-denominational institution by the York University Act. [5] which received Royal Assent in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on 26 March of that year.[6] Its first class was held on September 1960[7] in Falconer Hall on the University of Toronto campus with a total of 76 students.

The policy of university education initiated in the 1960s responded to population pressure and the belief that higher education was a key to social justice and economic productivity for individuals and for society.[6] The governance was modeled on the provincial University of Toronto Act of 1906 which established a bicameral system of university government consisting of a senate (faculty), responsible for academic policy, and a board of governors (citizens) exercising exclusive control over financial policy and having formal authority in all other matters. The president, appointed by the board, was to provide a link between the two bodies and to perform institutional leadership.[6]

In the fall of 1961, York moved to its first campus, Glendon College, and began to emphasize liberal arts and part-time adult education.[6] It became independent in 1965 after an initial period of affiliation with the University of Toronto (U of T) under the York University Act, 1965.[8] Its main campus in North York opened in 1965.[7]

Murray Ross, who continues to be honoured today at the University in several ways – including the Murray G. Ross Award, was still vice-president of U of T when he approached to become York University's new president. [9]At the time, York University was envisaged as a feeder campus to U of T, until Ross's powerful vision led it to become a completely separate institution.[10]

In 1965, the university opened a second campus, the Keele Campus (York University), in North York. The Glendon campus became a bilingual liberal arts college led by Escott Reid, who envisaged it as a national institution to educate Canada's future leaders, a vision shared by Prime Minister Lester Pearson, who formally opened Glendon College in 1966.[11][12]

The first Canadian undergraduate program in dance opened at York University in 1970. [9] The first Canadian PhD. program in Women's Studies opened with five candidates in January 1992.[9]

Its bilingual mandate and focus on the liberal arts continue to shape Glendon's special status within York University.[13] The new Keele campus was regarded as somewhat isolated, in a generally industrialized part of the city. Petrol storage facilities are still located across the street. Some of the early architecture was unpopular with many, not only for the brutalist designs, but the vast expanses between buildings, which was not viewed as suitable for the climate. In the last two decades, the campus has been intensified with new buildings, including a dedicated student centre and new fine arts, computer science and business administration buildings, a small shopping mall, and a hockey arena. The Rexall Centre tennis stadium, built in 2004, is a perennial host of the Canada Masters tennis tournament. As Toronto has spread further out, York has found itself in a relatively central location within the built-up Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and in particular, near the Jane and Finch neighbourhood. Its master plan envisages a denser on-campus environment commensurate with that location. Students occupied the university's administration offices in March 1997, protesting escalating tuition hikes. [9]

On November 6, 2008, the York University Senate suspended classes because of a strike by CUPE Local 3903. The local represents contract professors, teaching assistants, and graduate assistants. Classes resumed on Monday, February 2, 2009 after back-to-work legislation was passed by the Ontario Legislative Assembly[14] (see: 2008-09 York University Strike)



York University alumni, faculty, or former faculty have been awarded one Nobel Prize[15] and 14 Pulitzer Prizes[citation needed]. York has educated some of the current directors and one CEO of two of the major banks in Canada (Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montreal), the largest and most prominent media networks in Canada (CTV Television Network, Rogers Communications, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), and numerous judges, diplomats, and senior politicians including the current Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Appeal of Canada, the Minister of Finance of Canada, the Attorney General of Ontario, the President of the Privy Council of Canada and the Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations. Astronaut Steve MacLean was educated at York University in the physics department and later taught there before going to work at NASA.

The Harry W. Arthurs Common

York's approximately 2,450 full-time faculty and academic librarians are represented by the York University Faculty Association.[16] Contract faculty, teaching assistants, and graduate assistants are represented by CUPE Local 3903.[17]


For the 2011-2012 academic year, 41,527 students applied and 11,000 were admitted with a high school entrance average of 80% (A-).[18]


York University has ten faculties including the Faculties of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (which was formed in July 2009 by the merger of the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies and the Faculty of Arts), Science and Engineering, Education, and Glendon College. Some faculties' programs overlap: for instance, more than one house separate mathematics departments, although some of these are being merged; the Schulich School of Business offers undergraduate and graduate International Business Administration programmes and the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies offers a Bachelor of Administrative Studies, as well as a minor in Business, to be taken in conjunction with a major in another discipline. The Schulich School of Business offers undergraduates with the option of pursuing a BBA or iBBA program with a component of mandatory exchange. Also, Glendon, and Schulich units are offering or are in the processing of preparing to offer degrees in public policy and administration. The University administration has, however, taken steps in some cases to unify departments in separate faculties, in part to support York's efforts to brand itself as a university focused on interdisciplinarity. For example, the Faculty of Health, opened on 1 July 2006, houses the School of Health Policy and Management, School of Kinesiology and Health Science, School of Nursing, and the Department of Psychology.

York University offers the first and largest graphic design programme in Ontario York/Sheridan Design (YSDN).[19] It is a four-year University degree delivered jointly by the two leading educational institutions of design in Canada (York University and Sheridan College) and recognized throughout North America for maintaining the highest academic and professional standards.

The Osgoode Hall Law School moved from a downtown location to the York campus in 1969 following the requirement that every law school affiliate with a university. The law school has several flexible degrees available including the Osgoode-NYU JD/LLB degree in conjunction with New York University School of Law. Osgoode Hall Law School of York University has been ranked the top law school in Canada in Canadian Lawyer magazine’s 2008 Law School Survey.

York University's Faculty of Graduate Studies offers graduate degrees in a variety of disciplines, and there are several joint graduate programmes with the University of Toronto and Ryerson University. It is the second largest graduate school in the Province of Ontario.

The Ph.D. students in the Social and Political Thought[20] program have won the award for best PhD thesis in Canada. The School of Women's Studies at York University[21] offers a large array of courses in the field, some of which are offered in French. The Canadian Centre for Germanic and European Studies[22] is co-housed at York University and Université de Montréal. The Centre is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service.

View of Vari Hall from Harry W. Arthurs Common

Research centres and institutes

  • Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry
  • Centre for Research on Biomolecular Interactions
  • Centre for Research in Earth and Atmospheric Science
  • Centre for Research in Mass Spectrometry
  • Centre for Vision Research (CVR)
  • York Institute for Social Research
  • York Institute for Health Research
  • Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies
  • Canadian Centre for German and European Studies
  • Centre for Feminist Research
  • Centre for Jewish Studies
  • York Centre for Asian Research
  • Centre for International and Security Studies
  • Centre for Practical Ethics
  • Centre for Public Law and Public Policy
  • Centre for Refugee Studies
  • Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Centre for Research on Work and Society
  • Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability
  • Institute for Research on Learning Technologies
  • The Jack and Mae Nathanson Centre for the Study of Organized Crime and Corruption
  • LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence and Conflict Resolution
  • Las Nubes Centre for Neotropical Conservation and Research in Chirripó National Park is a research facility in Costa Rica donated by Dr. Woody Fisher in 1998
  • Interactive Systems Research Group (ISRG)
  • The Mariano Elia Chair for Italian-Canadian Studies
York U was involved with NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite

York has an art gallery (Art Gallery of York University.[23] The Faculty of Fine Arts[24] offers programmes such as design, ethnomusicology, cultural studies, visual arts, music, dance, and theatre. York's Jazz Department was once overseen by Oscar Peterson. York also has a joint Bachelor of Design program with Sheridan College. York's Departments of Film, Theatre and Creative Writing (which is not officially affiliated with the Faculty of Fine Arts) offers programmes in film production/directing, acting, and writing respectively, producing many award-winning graduates. The founders of Toronto's Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival and CineACTION film theory magazine were graduates of York's Faculty of Fine Arts.

York's Dance department was founded by National Ballet of Canada's first choreographer Grant Strate.

York offers a Space and Communication Sciences undergraduate degree. York’s Centre for Vision Research has developed a ‘virtual reality room’ called IVY (Immersive Virtual Environment at York) in order to study spatial orientation and perception of gravity and motion. The Canadian Space Agency and National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) use this room to strengthen astronauts’ sense of ‘up’ and ‘down’ in zero-gravity environments. The room is a six-sided immersive environment made of the glass used in the CN Tower’s observation deck and includes walls, ceiling, and a floor made of computer-generated pixel maps. York's Faculty of Science and Engineering most recently took part in the 2007 NASA Phoenix Mars Mission.

York is also the only university in Canada with specialized programs in meteorological sciences at both the undergraduate and graduate level.



The Keele campus is host to a satellite facility of Seneca College,[29] and York University offers a number of joint programs with Seneca College:

  • School of Communication Arts
  • Computer Studies
  • Biological Science and Applied Chemistry
  • Corporate and Technical Communications
  • Nursing


There are seven libraries and archives at York, five of them (Scott, Steacie, Peter F. Bronfman, Leslie Frost, and Clara Thomas) constituting York University Libraries, plus the Archives of Ontario and the library of Osgoode Hall Law School.


Keele Campus

An outdoor art exhibit outside of Scott Library, Keele Campus

York's primary campus ("The Keele Campus") is located in the former municipality of North York. Most of the University's faculties reside here, including Liberal Arts, Fine Arts, Environmental Studies, Science and Engineering, Education, and Health. All together, nearly 50,000 students attend classes on the Keele campus.

York has over 200,000 living alumni. Although a large number of alumni live in Ontario, a significant number live in British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Alberta, New York, and Washington, D.C. York also has over 25,000 alumni internationally.


Glendon College, a bilingual liberal arts faculty which conducts its own recruitment and admissions and hosts its own academic programs, is also housed on its own campus on Bayview Avenue in North Toronto. Glendon is the only university-level institution in central Southern Ontario that offers university courses in both French and English; others elsewhere in Ontario include the University of Ottawa and Laurentian University in Sudbury. A shuttle bus runs regularly between the Glendon and the Keele campuses. Glendon students are free to take courses at the Keele campus (and vice-versa). However, there are students who feel getting from one campus to the other to be inconvenient thus the attractiveness of this option is not universal.

Satellite Campuses

Seymour Schulich Building at York's Keele Campus

While most of the Schulich School of Business and Osgoode Hall Law School programs are offered at the Keele Campus, both of them maintain satellite facilities in downtown Toronto. Schulich operates the Miles S. Nadal Management Centre, while Osgoode Hall has a Professional Development Centre located at 1 Dundas Street West.

Student life

York has more than 50,000 students enrolled. Many students come from the Greater Toronto Area, but there is a sizeable population of students from across Canada and abroad, making York one of the most international universities in Canada. To serve this large population, there are 290 student clubs and organizations; six student-run publications and three broadcast programs; six art galleries; 33 on-campus eateries; and a retail mall. Undergraduate students at York are represented by the York Federation of Students, a student-elected body that sponsors most of the clubs and engages in lobbying with the university administration and the provincial and federal governments.[citation needed]


Vanier Residence
The Pond Road Residence

York has nine undergraduate residential colleges:

Colleges of York University


Motto/Mandate Academic Affiliations Undergrad Population Namesake


"Technology and the Arts" Schulich School of Business, Economics, Business and Society, Cognitive Science, Communication Studies, Urban Studies, Psychology 4806 Norman-French for pipe or pipestem.


"Self, Culture & Society" Anthropology, Environmental Studies, French, Geography, Italian, History, African studies, East Asian studies, Social Work, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, South Asian Studies, International Development, Women's Studies 4185 Those who founded York University and are not otherwise recognized.


Bilingual Liberal Arts Liberal Arts, English, French, Public Policy approx. 3000 A combination of "glen" meaning "valley" and "Don" for the Don River.


Public Policy & Social Sciences Political science, Sociology, Law and Society, Criminology, Public policy, Health and Society, Labour Studies 5128 Colonel Samuel McLaughlin, businessman and philanthropist.
New College


Professional Studies Human Resources, Administrative Studies, Information Technology unknown Newest college at York University.
Norman Bethune


"Science and its Place in the World" Natural Sciences, Engineering, Science and Technology Studies (formerly Science and Society) 6261 Dr. Norman Bethune, Canadian doctor and Chinese hero.


Language and Sport English and other Languages, Kinesiology, Health Science 4336 The Stong family lived on the land now occupied by the Keele campus.


Humanities Children's Studies, Classical Studies & Classics, Culture and Expression, Hellenic Studies, Individualized Studies, Jewish Studies, Liberal Studies, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Social and Political Thought, all Undecided Majors in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies 6909 Georges Vanier, Governor-General of Canada.


Fine Arts Fine Arts 2574 Robert Winters, Canadian Cabinet Minister and York's first chairman.
Glendon College acts as both a faculty and a college of the university. New College was created in 2009 to accommodate the creation of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies.

The different houses that make up Founders Residence are actually named after the Group of Seven (Varley House, Harris House, etc.), or as the plaque at the building says, 'The Founders of Canadian Art."

The Village

The Village at York off-campus student housing area has become a popular area of accommodation for many upper-year and post-graduate students, and the area has had a large amount of attention particularly for large parties hosted by students, including the annual Battle of the Village kegger held in March. There have also been many reports of the level of noise pollution from late-night parties from students living in the area.[30] Safety has also been a pressing issue.

The Village is a residential neighbourhood within the City of Toronto, occupying about 130 acres beyond the south boundary of York University's property. Residential dwellings in The Village are privately owned, and homeowners in this community are City of Toronto taxpayers. York University participates in the Village At York Town and Gown Committee, with representatives of residents of The Village; the York Federation of Students; Toronto Police Service and Toronto Fire Service, as well as other key municipal agencies and the local Councillors' office. This committee addresses concerns of residents, students, the City and the University, such as community safety and by-law enforcement and compliance.

Newspapers and other publications

Excalibur has been the university's autonomous student newspaper since 1966. In 2008, the YU Free Press was formed as an alternative campus newspaper.[31]

Colleges and some programs also have individual newspapers or magazines. They include: The Flying Walrus (Stong College), MacMedia (McLaughlin College), The Pipe (Calumet College), Winters Free Press (Winters College), SOFA (Spotlight On Fine Arts), The Lexicon (Norman Bethune College), The Vandoo (Vanier College), The Phoenix (Founders College), Pro Tem (Glendon College), Obiter Dicta (Osgoode Law School), and The Insider (Schulich School of Business).

Existere – Journal of Arts and Literature (est. 1978) is a national publication with local and international contributors. It is financed by Vanier College Council. The journal publishes short fiction, poetry, non-fiction and art from novices and seasoned veterans. Several major writers got their early start in Existere.

YorkU Magazine (est. 2003) is the official magazine of York University. It publishes five times per year in hard copy and digital editions.



The University is represented in Canadian Interuniversity Sport by the York Lions. Beginning in 1968 York's sporting teams were known as the "Yeomen", after the Yeomen Warders, the guardians of the fortress and palace at the Tower of London, otherwise known as Beefeaters. Later, the name "Yeowomen" was introduced to encourage women to participate in sports. Popular sentiment ran against this name scheme, however, as many students were fond of noting that a "Yeowoman" was fictitious, neither a real word nor having any historical merit. In 2003, after conducting an extensive internal study, the University replaced both names with the "Lions", as part of a larger renaming effort, and a new logo, now a white and red lion, was brought into line with the university's new visual scheme. The name change also brought York University in line with the 92% of other Canadian universities which use a single name for both sexes' sports teams. Ironically, students often refer to the female Lions teams as the "York Lionesses", even though the name "Lion" is intended to apply to both sexes.[32]

York offers 29 interuniversity sport teams, 12 sport clubs, 35 intramural sport leagues, special events and 10 pick-up sport activities offered daily.

York University has several athletic facilities, some of which are used for major tournaments. These include a football stadium, 4 gymnasia, 5 sport playing fields, 4 softball fields, 9 outdoor tennis courts, 5 squash courts, 3 dance/aerobic studios, 6 ice arenas, a swimming pool, an expanding fitness centre and the new Rexall Centre (home of the Rogers Tennis Cup).

In 2005, plans were made to build a new football and soccer stadium to host the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League and future football tournaments. These plans were scuttled, however, when a deal was signed by the Argos to remain at the Rogers Centre.

Fight song

Notable among a number of songs commonly played and sung at various events such as commencement and convocation, and athletic games are: "York Song", sung to the tune "Harvard".[33]

At sporting events, and in a host of frosh week events on campus, students are often heard singing and chanting the cheer "Deep in the Heart":

Deep in the heart of the York U Jungle,
You can hear the Lions rumble,
Oo Oo, YU YU, Oo Oo, YU YU

Another York Fight song that is used at Homecoming games is:

The red and white are waving over the field
Our team is fighting with the spirit that will not yield
Rah rah rah!
Hail to thee O York U
We'll fight for you
Once again the Lions will reach victory!

There are also college songs, particularly from the friendly feuds between Stong College and Bethune College, and the infamous Winters College and Vanier College cheer songs.

Fraternities and Sororities

Over the years, two fraternities and two sororities have operated, unofficially, on campus:



Phi Delta Phi (ΦΔΦ) international legal fraternity, at Osgoode Law School, was given special dispensation when the law school became part of the university, as the fraternity's history with the law school dated back to 1896, and is recognized at York.


Global rankings

  • The 2010 QS World University Overall Rankings ranked York 333rd out of 660 institutions. This was down 60 spots from the 2009 rankings and York has a three-year average rank of 286.[38]
  • The Webometrics Ranking of World Universities 2010, which conducts an annual ranking of the World's Top 12,000 Universities, ranked York at 120th out of 12,000.[39] That was up 14 places compared to the 2009 ranking.

Specialized rankings

  • Maclean's 2011 University Rankings placed York 9th in Canada in its "comprehensive" university category.[40]
  • The 2011 4ICU Ranking of the Top 200 Colleges and Universities of the World ranked York 93rd.[41] The aim of the 4ICU Web site is to provide an approximate popularity ranking of universities based upon the popularity of their websites.
  • The 2010 QS World University Rankings ranked York 4th in Canada and 110th in the world for Arts & Humanities and 6th in Canada and 116th in the world for Social Sciences.[42]
  • York University's overall grade was 'B+', one of the highest grade amongst Canadian universities, on the 2010 College Sustainability Report Card of the Sustainable Endowments Institute.[43]


A TTC Orion V bus at York

York University is sometimes referred to as a "commuter school". Over 65% of the students and staff have home addresses in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), particularly in York Region and downtown Toronto. Many students are opting for public transit owing to York's high parking fees. York intends to increase the fees for parking for the 2009/10 academic year to combat the congestion around the campus and to support the goal of making Toronto more environmentally friendly.[citation needed]

Close to fourteen hundred buses move people through the campus each day. A proposed extension of the Yonge-University-Spadina line of the Toronto Subway is currently under construction. It would run directly under the campus, creating new stations at Keele Street and Finch Avenue (as Finch West station), at the centre of campus (as York University station), and at Steeles Avenue, interfacing with York Regional Transit (as Steeles West station).

York University's Glendon and Keele campuses are served by the TTC. The Keele site is also served by York Region Transit buses (both regular and Viva) from the immediate north, GO Transit express buses from several other Toronto suburbs and colleges or universities and Greyhound buses for regional transportation. Transportation Services operates a shuttle service to GO Transit's York University train station on its Barrie corridor. As of November 20, 2009, express buses on the highly frequent 196 York University Rocket Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) bus route now use the dedicated York University Busway to transport students from Downsview station to York Lanes in about 15 minutes. It consists of bus-only lanes on Allen Road and Dufferin Street, and bus-only roadways through a hydro corridor north of Finch Avenue West, and along the east side of the campus. As of September 20, 2010, the Züm Route 501 provides service from Bramalea Terminal in Brampton to York University.

Campus safety

York University Department of Security Services provides security services on the university's campuses. York Security Services provide uniformed security staff which consist of campus liaison officers (community services unit) and the Investigative Unit which works closely with the Toronto Police Services. The investigative unit and Toronto Police Investigative Units and 31 Division work jointly on serious investigations. Patrols are conducted on foot, bicycle and vehicle. The security service is a member of the Ontario Association of College and University Security Administrators (OACUSA) and the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA). The campus community is over 55,000 people.

The department uses marked Ford Crown Victorias which are clearly identifiable with low-profile LED roof lights. The department responds to all calls for service, however incidents of a criminal nature should be reported to Toronto Police.

Uniform security staff can be clearly identified by their dark cargo-style pants, red shirt (York University colour) and black exterior body armour (bulletproof vest covers).

Residence watch staff are also posted nightly at all undergraduate residence buildings to provide an extra level of protection.

As part of the campus safety system a student escort service is available to all members of the community. The escort staff are students hired on a part-time basis. In an emergency escort staff have immediate communication with Security Services.

In June 2008, the university announced it had commissioned an external safety audit after a string of rapes on the university campus.

During frosh week 2007, two men entered a campus dormitory and raped two students.[44][45] The victims were 17 and 18 years old at the time.[46] A lawsuit filed claims that "the entrance door to the college and to the residential room areas of the college were virtually wide open to the public at large".[47]

The next year, in January 2008, another student was sexually assaulted in the stairwell of a campus building.[48]

In May 2009, a contract security guard was shot at a York University campus pub, The Underground.[49]

In April 2010, a 20-year-old student was sexually assaulted while walking to her apartment, located minutes away from the main campus.[50] The incident, described by police as "particularly severe" and resulting in "very serious" injuries for the victim, was particularly notable as it occurred just a week after Daniel Katsnelson was sentenced for the 2007 rape on the university campus.[51][52]

The incident further reignited criticism against the school for continued delays in releasing the campus safety audit, which was first announced nearly 2 years prior.[44][53] On March 31, 2010, less than a month prior to the April 2010 incident, the campus newspaper, Excalibur published an article lambasting the school administration for delays in releasing the audit.[44] A spokesman for the university responded that the school is still "anxiously awaiting" the report.[54]

In April 2011, campus security was temporarily increased following the murder of a 23-year old, the university hired paid duty Toronto Police Officers to patrol the campus. Chinese overseas student[55][56] in the York University Village.[57][58][59]

On August 26, 2011, York University announced that in response to recommendations in the METRAC Safety Audit, the University will be modifying the service delivery model for York Security Services (YSS) personnel. Members will be trained and issued with handcuffs and batons. Cruisers are to also be equipped with "silent partners" for transporting arrested persons. [60]



Noted alumni and faculty


Violation of academic freedom

In the aftermath of an academic conference that took place in 2009, titled "Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace",[62] which explored the possible models of statehood for Israel/Palestine, including the one state model, concerns were raised about the way the York Administration has handled the political pressure.[63] Some of the organizers accused the York administration, mainly the then Dean of the Osgoode Hall Law School and the Associate Vice President for Research and Innovation, of putting undue pressure on the organizers in order to force them to change the content of the conference, invite or disinvite some speakers. The accusations[64] were supported by documents and emails that were obtained through the Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act.

The York administration appointed former Supreme Court of Canada Judge to review the issue, but the Iacobucci Review was problematic, and the terms of reference[65] for the review were seen as an attack on academic freedom. The whole issue is being investigated by the Canadian Association of University Teachers.[66]

In response to the allegations made, a University spokesperson said that the University should be judged the fact that event took place despite the pressure not to hold it, and that there is always internal discussion as part of the planning of all events. He added that "In the end, this conference did go on and we do not feel that academic freedom was breached."[67] Vice President and Provost, Patrick Monahan, said, about these allegation that "Justice Iacobucci has looked at that and he doesn’t see any purpose in conducting further inquiries. Obviously there are a lot of different views about it.”[67] Yet, it seems that the Iaccobucci Report is seen by many faculty members at Osgoode as controversial. In a letter from the Osgoode Hall Faculty Association, the Association said that it "considers the Iacobucci Report to be unsound and unreliable."[68] The Association also said that "the Report both jeopardizes academic freedom and fails to consider the troubling conduct of the York officials."

Intimidation of Jewish Students and Pro-Israel Groups

On February 11, 2009, approximately 100 pro-Palestinian students reportedly initiated a near-riot against a group of Jewish students during a news conference where speakers called for the impeachment of the York Federation of Students (YFS) executive. According to witnesses, the demonstrators, which reportedly consisted of members of the YFS and Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA), shouted “Zionism equals racism!” and “Racists off campus!” One witness stated that “a riot broke out. They [YFS supporters] started banging the door and windows, intimidating Jewish students and screaming antisemitic slurs.” The students barricaded themselves inside the Hillel offices, where protesters reportedly banged on the windows and attempted to force their way in. Eventually police were called to escort Jewish students through the protesters. [69][70][71][72]

Krisna Saravanamuttu, York Federation of Students' vice-president of equity, who took part in the protest, denied that the protesters shouted anti-semitic slogans, stating that "That is categorically false. I heard nothing of that nature at all." He did however, confirm that the protesters shouted "racism off campus" and "students united will never be defeated."[73]

In May 2009, York adjudicator Janet Mosher, who is an associate dean at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, ruled that two York students, Krisna Saravanamuttu and Jesse Zimmerman, had violated the Student Code of Conduct due to their behaviour at the protest, which she described as “exclusionary and offensive” and which promoted an atmosphere of “hostility, incivility and intimidation.” Mosher noted that both students participated in the protest which pursued a group of Jewish students to Hillel’s lounge in York’s Student Centre, and swarmed outside shouting taunts. On a video of the incident, Saravanamuttu was shown clapping and apparently leading a chant of “Whose campus? Our campus!” as well as participating in a chant of “Racists off campus." Saravanamuttu was fined $150 and both he and Zimmerman were given an official reprimand and human rights training.[74][75][76]

In February 2010, the campus group the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and My Canada applied to use university space to host the Imagine With Us coalition event consisting of pro-Israel speakers. The University replied that the event could only proceed under certain conditions (which ultimately led to the event's cancellation when the organizers declined to comply with the terms):

  • the organizers would be required to pay for security, including both campus and Toronto police;
  • the organizers must provide an advance list of all program attendees and advance minute-by-minute summaries of all the speeches; and
  • No advertising for the program would be permitted on campus.[77][78]

These conditions drew criticism because they were not imposed on the organizers of Israel Apartheid Week which was being held on campus the same month.[77][78] York's decision drew sharp criticism from David Frum who wrote in the National Post that "Since the anti-Israel people might use violence, the speech of the pro-Israel people must be limited. On the other hand, since the pro-Israel people do not use violence, the speech of the anti-Israel people can proceed without restraint." A York University spokesman subsequently told Frum that "all student groups that request university space" must meet "precisely same requirements" but that while the “process” and the “protocols” that were the same, a “needs-based assessment” of each particular case is necessary. Frum subsequently criticized the "utterly arbitrary ad hoc decision-making of a fathomlessly cowardly university administration." Frank Dimant, CEO of B'nai Brith Canada also sharply criticized York's justification, arguing that "York’s continued appeasement of anti-Israel agitators at the expense of Zionist Christians and Jews is unacceptable.” [77]

Professor Ed Morgan of the University of Toronto criticized York, citing a 1992 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down a county government's increased fee for police protection for a controversial speaker because "speech cannot be financially burdened, any more than it can be punished or banned, simply because it might offend a hostile mob." Regarding the situation at York, Morgan wrote that "It's bad enough that there are "hostile mobs" on our campuses; making others pay for that hostility only rubs salt in our wounded freedoms."[79] Prof. Howard C. Tenenbaum, also of the University of Toronto, wrote that York "has lost all stature as an academic institution whose remit is to provide for full academic discourse, freedom from hatred on campus and freedom of speech, unless of course that freedom only includes unabashed hatred for the State of Israel."[80] David Murrell of the University of New Brunswick wrote that "Everyone has a supposed right to free speech at York University – so long as groups can afford to pay security against leftist intimidation."[81]


York University has a history of faculty and teaching assistant strikes. In 1997, there was a faculty strike by YUFA that lasted seven weeks. At the time, this was the second longest strike in Canadian University history.[82] Key issues in the strike included retirement, funding, and institutional governance. In 2001, teaching assistants and contract faculty went on strike for 11 weeks, when the university broke its own record.[83] The central issue in the 2001 disruption was the administration's proposed attempts to remove tuition indexation language.

A strike beginning on November 6, 2008[84] concerned a variety of institutional grievances, including job security for contract professors, elimination of the Non-Academic Student Code of Conduct, creation of whistleblower protection, and fund indexation. On January 20, 2009, CUPE 3903 defeated a forced ratification vote that would have ended the strike. On January 24, Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty announced a rare Sunday recall of the provincial legislature in order to pass back-to-work legislation mandating an immediate end to the strike.[85] On January 29, the York University Labour Disputes Resolution Act was passed in the provincial parliament on a count of 42–8 ending the long 85-day strike and setting a precedent for future university strikes in Ontario.

See also


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  69. ^ Democracy takes a beating at York by Atara Beck, The Jewish Tribune, February 17, 2009.
  70. ^ An eyewitness account of this week's aggressive intimidation of Jewish students at York University by Jonathan Blake Karoly, National Post, February 12, 2009.
  71. ^ Campuses awash in tension over Israel apartheid week By Craig Offman, National Post, March 3, 2009 (posted on Canada.com).
  72. ^ York University sanctions student groups over rally clashes, National Post, March 5, 2009
  73. ^ Push to oust York student leaders stirs ethnic tensions by Elizabeth Church and Omar El Akkad, Globecampus.ca (The Globe and Mail), February 13, 2009.
  74. ^ Two York students sanctioned over confrontation, Yfile, York's Daily Bulletin, May 26, 2009.
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  76. ^ Jewish group questions TTC advisory panel choice by Megan O'Toole, National Post, March 8, 2010.
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  81. ^ Not sending any more grads to York University by David Murrell, National Post, March 4, 2010.
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  85. ^ "Ontario to legislate end to York University strike", CBC News, January 24, 2009.



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