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Censure threat over Niagara College’s Saudi campuses

(Ottawa— 7 December, 2016) The Canadian Association of University Teachers is threatening censure of Niagara College if the Ontarian institution continues to operate gender-segregated campuses and programs in Saudi Arabia.

“These [campuses and programs] operate in a repressive country known for its severe clampdown on freedom of expression, mass executions, and gender-based discrimination and violence,” wrote CAUT Executive Director David Robinson in a letter to Niagara College president Dan Patterson.

At the 81st CAUT Council meeting, on November 26th, delegates unanimously passed a motion that unless the concerns of discrimination of lack of academic freedom at Niagara’s Saudi campuses are satisfactorily resolved, censure will be imposed at the Spring 2017 meeting of CAUT Council.

Censure is an extremely important sanction that is used very rarely. It means that CAUT asks its members and the international academic community:

  • Not to accept appointments at a censured institution;
  • Not to accept invitations to speak or participate in academic conferences there;
  • Not to accept any distinction or honour that may be offered by that institution.

“We continue to hope a resolution can be found that is acceptable to all parties,” added Robinson. “Our objective is not to censure the institution, but to ensure that the administration fully respects gender equality and academic freedom.”