Dear UVSS Members,
We, as an organization, wish to hold space for the profound collective grief and rage our campus community has been experiencing over the last month due to the war in Palestine and Israel. The UVSS has been made aware of numerous incidents of Islamophobia and Antisemitism as we have engaged with affected community members. This has included physical harassment and hate speech.
This is unacceptable.
For those who have faced discrimination, harassment or hate speech, we encourage you to take your experience to the EQHR office so resolution and healing can begin: https://www.uvic.ca/equity/index.php. They will also be able to assist you with academic accommodations.
We would like to encourage all our members to support each other through this incredibly difficult time. To our students, especially those who are implicated directly, we stand with you, yearning for peace.
The UVSS implores everyone to examine their privilege, combat oppression, embrace dialogue, and actively contribute to a better world. As the comfort and safety of our students is our top priority, we have provided a list of community resources here: Resource list.
As noted previously, we have been meeting with students and community members with valuable lived experience in relation to recent reports of on-campus human rights violations. This has been done to reduce the unintentional harm that can be caused when swiftness is prioritised over mindfulness and consultation of the groups who are most likely to be affected by our words.
Oppression is multi-faceted and intersectional, and it thrives through societal norms and systems that enable and justify unjust treatment and control of innocent people. To engage in good faith, we have to acknowledge the simultaneous existence of multiple truths that capture the historical, religious, and cultural context of this region. However, we cannot in good conscience ignore the asymmetry of this violence. The Israeli government, led by Netanyahu, has the backing of many of the most powerful militaries on the planet. This includes the United States, Canada, and the UK. No comparable backing exists for Palestine.
In retaliation to the horrific Hamas attacks on civilians, Netanyahu’s regime has aggressively bombed the people living in the Gaza Strip, nearly half of whom are children. Food, water, electricity, internet, and humanitarian aid have been cut off from Gazans. Major experts and humanitarian organizations, including the UN, have characterized these actions as ethnic cleansing, war crimes, and genocide. We join the many voices calling for an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages, halting arms trade to Israel, and for all humanitarian aid being sent to Gaza to be allowed to enter unimpeded. With this in mind, the UVSS is providing financial support to humanitarian organizations contributing aid on the ground in Gaza.
To our students, especially those who are directly implicated, we stand with you. We wish, from the bottom of our hearts, for peace. But any call for peace must recognize the magnitude of the crisis in Gaza, and the immediate need for a ceasefire.
Your UVSS Board of Directors
United Nations. (2023, October). Israel-Gaza Crisis. United Nations.
United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. (2023, October 14). UN expert warns of new instance of mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, calls for immediate ceasefire. United Nations. https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2023/10/un-expert-warns-new-instance-mass-ethnic-cleansing-palestinians-calls
Tétrault-Farber, Gabrielle and Farge, Emma. (2023, November 2). UN experts say ceasefire needed as Palestinians ‘at grave risk of genocide’. Reuters.
Center for Constitutional Rights. (October 18, 2023). Israel’s Unfolding Crime of Genocide of the Palestinian People & U.S. Failure to Prevent and Complicity in Genocide. Center for Constitutional Rights.