June 30, 2022
Dear members of the McGill community,
On 21 March, 2022, I announced the creation of an initiative to address and prevent Islamophobia and Antisemitism (the IAIAS) on our campuses.
Led by Prof. Angela Campbell, Associate Provost (Equity and Academic Policies) and Prof. Fabrice Labeau, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning), this initiative was created in response to a growing number of reports from students and staff of Muslim and Jewish identity of experiences that have led them to feel marginalized, alienated, and/or discriminated against within our University context.
Over the course of the past two months, the IAIAS conducted extensive consultations with Jewish and Muslim students, student associations, faculty and staff at McGill and with members of external Muslim and Jewish community organizations.
Today, I am pleased to confirm that I have received and have carefully considered the Final Report of the IAIAS. I accept and endorse all its recommendations and I look forward to its presentation to Senate when meetings resume in the Fall term.
It will be important for all members of the McGill community to be aware of the Report’s key recommendations with respect to ensuring that our University remains an inclusive community where all members are protected from discrimination including discrimination on the basis of religious identity.
The recommendations of the Final Report focus on the related themes of Education and Accommodations and Support. Included among these are the following:
- Concrete measures to increase community understanding of the Muslim and Jewish religions, including institutional funding for Muslim Awareness Week, observation of the International Day of Holocaust Remembrance, expansion of inclusivity training opportunities and further development of interfaith activities within the McGill Office for Religious and Spiritual Life (MORSL);
- Expansion of opportunities for scholarly discussion around the conflict in the Middle East in collaboration with the Institute for Islamic Studies and the Department of Jewish Studies, and through the development of a lecture series on pluralism in a range of forms;
- Expansion of institutional supports for Muslim and Jewish community members, including the addition of one Jewish student liaison and one Muslim student liaison within MORSL, the creation of a peer mentoring program in collaboration with the Muslim Student Association and Hillel McGill;
- Clarification of formal channels for reporting incidents of Islamophobia and Antisemitism and institution of periodic, confidential climate surveys that encourage feedback from students;
- Increased efforts to account for and accommodate the religious commitments and needs of Jewish and Muslim community members, with fair and consistent accommodation around holy days, including a project within the Enrolment and Student Affairs Advisory Committee (ESAAC) to explore appropriate accommodations around Ramadan, and clearer access to Kosher and Halal options in dining halls and food service outlets.
I encourage all members of our community to read the full text of the Final Report and the details of all of the specific recommended actions stemming from these priorities. The University will act on each of these recommendations immediately.
As the Final Report affirms, acts of discrimination and oppression, which include Islamophobia and Antisemitism, have no place at our University and will not be tolerated. Our diverse identities are not only accepted at McGill, but honoured and celebrated; no one should ever feel that they must hide who they are to feel that they belong to our campuses.
I would like to thank Professors Campbell and Labeau for leading the IAIAS and all those who contributed to the consultations and the preparation of the Report, especially students, faculty, staff, and members of the wider Jewish and Muslim communities who took time to share their perspectives and insights, despite the often sensitive and difficult experiences recounted.
I am confident that the recommendations of the IAIAS will enhance inclusion and belonging for Muslim and Jewish members of our university community.
Professor Christopher Manfredi
Provost and Vice-Principal Academic