During the summer the Office of the Vice-President Services received an initial request from Hillel to hold a public lecture by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in the Henry F. Hall Building on our downtown Sir George Williams Campus. After a security assessment, this request was denied.
A series of exploratory discussions ensued about this request with various parties who take pride in Ehud Barak’s accomplishments and contributions. . . . Our Director of Security, Mr. Jean Brisebois, oversaw an evaluation of both sites on the Loyola campus, in collaboration with members of the security forces that would be involved in such an event. It was their collective, professional assessment that the security of the guest speaker, the attendees and faculty and students could not be guaranteed at either location. . . .
We at Concordia are cognizant of our responsibility as an institution of higher education to foster free speech and debate on a multitude of issues. Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s pioneering record as an international figure standing for conciliation, understanding and negotiation precedes him. . . . It is unfortunate, but a reality nonetheless, that the safety of its community members and guests must occupy a central position in planning events at an institution dedicated to free speech. . . .
I sympathize with the university’s position, assuming that their reason for saying no is candid. But the bottom line is that the thugs — those whose possible actions would jeopardize the “safety of [Concordia’s] community members” — have won: They have kept the university from engaging in an important part of its academic mission (bringing important ideas and people to help educate their students). And when thugs win once, it seems to me that this simply emboldens them to spread their thuggery more broadly. A sad day for Canadian higher education.
Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer.