By Matt Kwong and Jordan Press
A leading Jewish organization has labeled Ryerson discriminatory, but university officials say that’s a mistake.
On Friday, the Montreal Gazette reported that B’nai Brith Canada listed Ryerson as a university that doesn’t protect Jewish students from discrimination in the classroom.
B’nai Brith alleges Jewish students hide their views on the Middle East and the war on terror out of fear that they will offend their professors and get low grades. University spokesperson Bruce Piercey said Ryerson respects Jewish students’ rights and that B’nai Brith told him that Ryerson’s listing, was a mistake. Concordia and York were also listed.
Piercey said if B’nai Brith has a problem with Ryerson, “they can pick up the phone and call us.” Ryerson President Claude Lajeunesse echoed those sentiments.
“They told us that it was a mistake and we should not have been included with that, and we do believe it was a mistake,” Lajeunesse said. “Everybody makes mistakes. I felt that this was one that was particularly irritating.”
Hillel of Greater Toronto, which represents Jewish students on campuses across the city, said listing Ryerson will hurt the school’s reputation with some members of the Jewish community.
“I think one of our concerns is these kinds of accusations give the impression these schools aren’t very safe,” said Zack Kaye, the group’s external affairs director. “There’s a collective interest in keeping all students safe on campus and that’s certainly my experience. “At Ryerson, nobody’s come to us to say any faculty at Ryerson has a racist view,” he said later.
B’nai Brith spokesperson Karen Lazar wouldn’t confirm that the mention was a mistake. She said students had complained about Ryerson and her organization will be keeping an eye on the school.
Lazar said B’nai Brith is not targeting anyone; schools are targeting Jewish students. However, Hillel at Ryerson hasn’t heard of anything like that and was caught off-guard with the report. “Usually you would think students would come to Hillel. It (the report) totally shocked me,” said David Goldberg, an executive with Hillel.
B’nai Brith is filing a complaint against Concordia over its decision to not allow former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak to speak on campus last month.