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U of R won't pursue study tour deal with Israel

August 14, 2014
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As the smoke clears in devastated Gaza, University of Regina faculty, students and community members reaffirmed their anger over the school's discussions with Israeli universities.

As the smoke clears in devastated Gaza, University of Regina faculty, students and community members reaffirmed their anger over the school's discussions with Israeli universities.

Monday, more than 60 people marched and shouted in the hallways at the U of R. "We refuse to support this, we refuse to normalize Israel's war crimes, and we refuse to ignore calls for justice and freedom in Palestine," said Valerie Zink, organizer of The Coalition for a Free Palestine, an advocacy group formed two weeks ago.

"We reject these partnerships now, and we will reject them every time until Palestine is free."

The protesters marched to the office doors of Andrew Gaudes, dean of the Hill School of Business, and Vianne Timmons, president of the U of R. The protesters didn't speak to either of them, but left written notices under their doorways.

A couple of years ago, the U of R had ongoing discussions with the Israeli government and the country's universities regarding the development of a partnership where U of R students could benefit from study tours, courses and work placements related to public safety.

The U of R declined to provide anyone for an interview, but gave a written statement on behalf of Gaudes.

It said the U of R is no longer pursuing an arrangement with Hebrew University, as its course content did not meet program needs, and the U of R is no longer pursuing study tours in the region.

Documents obtained by Zink said the partnership would form part of a proposed specialization in public safety management for the Levene MBA program, which is jointly run by the business and justice departments.

But the U of R's discussions with Hebrew University were ended informally by Gaudes on July 24, said Andrew Stevens, business administration professor.

"I have to believe that (Gaudes) is being honest," Stevens said. "We don't want to see another situation like this one happen again."

Stevens said the U of R should develop written guidelines on how it partners with international institutions, based on an ethical framework. Stevens said he and university faculty members, students and community members will meet Tuesday to discuss relations between U of R and Israeli institutions.

The proposal of the MBA that specializes in public safety management is "stuck in technicalities," Stevens added.

"The Arts department still has to make a decision on it."

That program is scheduled to start in the Fall 2014 semester.

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