MONTREAL (Mar. 9)
More than 300 faculty members, administrators and students at Concordia University here demanded today that Rector John O’Brian make it absolutely clear that the university is unequivocally opposed to any exchange agreement with Saudi Arabia which discriminates against Jewish members of the university community. See Background Story in March 9 Daily News Bulletin, P. 4.)
“Everything we have been hearing until now is very vogue. We want a clear statement saying the university will have nothing to do with this type of discrimination,” said Frederick Krantz, principal of the liberal arts college, commenting on a proposed student and faculty exchange agreement with King Faisal University in Riyadh.
The agreement has stirred a controversy between faculty and the administrative heads of Concordia University because of Saudi Arabia’s well known policy of denying entry visas to Jews. Krantz’s statement referred to assistant vice rector Douglas Potvin’s assertion that there was no indication that Saudi Arabia would insist on barring Jewish professors from the exchange program at Concordia. O’Brian was out of town this week.
“There has been a storm of protest by people both inside and outside the university,” Krantz said. “The acting rector’s statement to the effect that the Saudi Arabian authorities have not raised the question of Jews still might be in favor of a discriminatory program. We want to make sure people know that isn’t true.”
June Chaikelson, academic dean, charged that the proposed agreement condones racism. But she and Krantz said their statements do not mean they oppose exchange programs. Essam Scheich, director of Saudi Arabia’s education mission to Canada, said last week that the exchange with Concordia would not exclude Jewish faculty or staff because Saudi Arabia does not discriminate against Jews.