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Remarks by President Meric Gertler Addressing Antisemitism, Governing Council meeting, December 15, 2022

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Madam Chair, I would like to address the topic of Antisemitism at the University of Toronto, and at our Temerty Faculty of Medicine, since this has been the subject of recent media reports.  

Let me begin by acknowledging once again the sad and appalling reality of Antisemitism, which is clearly on the rise in Canadian society and in other countries.  

As we are a part of the society around us, it is also present on our campuses.  

Antisemitism is a pernicious and despicable form of racism, and we must do everything we can to combat and eradicate it, just as we are committed to combatting all forms of racism on our campuses.  

I – and my predecessors in the President’s Office – have issued statements over the years condemning Antisemitism in the strongest possible terms.  

As Governors will know, the University convened a Presidential, Provostial, and Vice-Presidential Working Group on Antisemitism, chaired by Professor Arthur Ripstein (Faculty of Law and Department of Philosophy). The Working Group consulted widely across the university and issued a comprehensive report in the Spring of this year.  

The University has committed to implementing all eight recommendations put forward by the Working Group and we have made significant progress.  These actions start from the premise that Antisemitism is a particular form of racism and exclusion, and that it must be addressed with this in mind.   

The Temerty Faculty of Medicine has also done much to acknowledge the presence of Antisemitism in its community, and to take concrete steps to combat it.  

These include introducing changes to its curriculum and anti-racism training, and consulting regularly with its Jewish learners to ensure they are properly supported.  

Dean Trevor Young also commissioned an important research project to shed light on the historical practice of imposing quotas that limited the number of Jewish students admitted to study medicine and allowed to practice in our partner hospitals.  

I attended a special event hosted by Temerty Medicine several weeks ago, at which this research was presented. The event included personal testimonials from survivors of this unacceptable practice.  Dean Young, together with the CEOs of three of our TAHSN hospitals, offered a sincere and moving apology for this historic injustice.  

I want to assure members of our University community that we remain deeply committed to fighting the scourge of Antisemitism on our campuses.  We acknowledge that much more work needs to be done before we succeed.    

I call on all members of our community to unite in the battle against Antisemitism and all other forms of racism and exclusion.