16 May 2024
A Call to Accountability: Trent University's Responsibilities Amidst Genocide in Palestine

Dear Trent University's Administration and Senior Leadership,

Today (Wednesday, the 15th of May, 2024) marks the 220th day of Israel's genocide in Gaza, a genocide which has been declared as such under the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and by countless human rights specialists and academics worldwide. As we bear witness, we not only grapple with the unfathomable suffering inflicted on over 2 million innocent people but also with the deliberate destruction of the social fabric as 76 years of Israeli occupation of Palestine comes to a head. When we look up from the endless stream of pictures and videos documenting these horrors, we are confronted with the cognitive dissonance prevailing here in the universities of the Global North, where life has continued on as if untouched by what we know is happening. 

In a unified call for justice released on the 25th of October, 2023, over 15 Palestinian universities called upon the international academic community "to fulfill their intellectual and academic [duties] of seeking truth and holding the perpetrators of genocide accountable". We call on you, Trent Administration, to honour the plea of your colleagues in Palestine. Over 40,000 Palestinians have been brutally murdered, and every university in Gaza has been bombed and reduced to rubble. We cannot accept Trent University as an idle bystander to this horrific offence against scholarship and humanity. The act of complicity is not solely defined by direct involvement in crimes but also by the failure to act when there is a capacity to influence the situation. This applies to Trent University by virtue of its social standing and its intellectual authority as a post-secondary academic institution. Silence is not neutral; it is violent and deadly. 

We question what you believe is being achieved by your current response or, more aptly, lack thereof. Complicity in genocide and scholasticide will not be forgotten. It will only become abundantly clearer that avoiding taking an explicit and principled stance does not protect Trent's reputation. Your silence implies a limit to your commitment to respecting and acknowledging Indigenous perspectives and knowledge, principles which you claim to prioritize in this institution. What does it say about your core values and interests when you boast our university's excellence in Indigenous scholarship but watch in silence as a colonial settler state systematically and violently destroys Indigenous scholarship in Gaza? What does ignoring Gaza say about Trent's commitment to the processes of Truth and Reconciliation for Canada's history of genocide? When you say Every Child Matters, this should apply to the approximately 15,000 children murdered in Israel's colonial project and the surviving children facing death, destruction, and famine in Palestine today. Without your condemnation of the Zionist state and its settler colonial agenda, it is understandable for onlookers to perceive Trent University's current silence as inconsistent with its brand.

Beyond the silence, we write to express our concern regarding financial and institutional ties with complicit entities. Provided the pattern that we have seen unfolding throughout post-secondary institutions across North America, we hold reasonable concern that Trent University may too be invested in actors implicated in Israel's crimes. The conspicuous absence of a public statement from Trent University affirming its lack of investment in complicit companies is a red flag that this pattern of financial complicity may indeed extend to our institution. This concern is reaffirmed by the fact that our faculty's pensions rely on funds that profit from genocide. The University Pension Plan Ontario has confirmed investments in companies with blood on their hands. The following is a list of key offenders which have substantial ties to the Israeli military:

ABB sponsors the control and motion laboratory at the Ruppin Academic Centre. Ruppin "develops cultural competency programs for the Israeli Defence Forces and Ministries of Education, the Interior, and Internal Security".

In October 2022, Scotiabank invested 500 million into the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems Ltd. which amounts to 5% of the company, making it the largest foreign investor.

Howmet makes the fastening systems used on the F-35 Lightening II, a stealth fighter jet used by Israel to bombard Gaza. Howmet was targeted by activists in the UK in October, 2023.

Cadence provides software, hardware, and intellectual property for microchip design for aeronautics and defence manufacturers. One of Cadence's subsidiaries in Israel is the biggest EDA tools distributor in Israel, serving over 600 customers in industries including the military.

Safran is a major arms manufacturer that has established ties with the Israeli military through agreements to develop the Arrow 3 hypersonic ballistic missile system and partnership with Rafael Defence Systems Ltd. for battlefield targeting technology. Additionally, Safran has provided surveillance equipment to the Judea and Samaria police forces in the occupied West Bank. In March 2024, Safran's manufacturing facilities in Peterborough were targeted by protests regarding their links to the ongoing genocide. Moreover, there is evidence of more direct ties between Trent University and Safran in the recent past (2019) in the form of a co-op placement which continues to be advertised on the university's website. Trent has not come forward to announce the termination of any pre-existing and/or ongoing relationship with Safran since the beginning of this genocide despite protests in March 2024. The nature of Trent's relationship with Safran is unclear to the public, which, given Safran's involvement in crimes against humanity, is unacceptable.

We implore you to consider the lives at stake and the power you wield to promote peace and justice.

We demand that Trent University:

As leaders of an academic institution, you do not have the excuse of ignorance. Fifty years from now, you cannot say you did not know. Let this not be your legacy.

Yours in protest,

Trent Students in Solidarity with Palestine

Update 19 May 2024

An (Updated) Call to Accountability: Trent University's Responsibilities Amidst Genocide in Palestine

Dear Trent University's Administration and Senior Leadership,

Today (Wednesday, the 15th of May, 2024) marks the 220th day of Israel's genocide in Gaza, a genocide which has been declared as such under the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and by countless human rights specialists and academics worldwide. As we bear witness, we not only grapple with the unfathomable suffering inflicted on over 2 million innocent people but also with the deliberate destruction of the social fabric as 76 years of Israeli occupation of Palestine comes to a head. When we look up from the endless stream of pictures and videos documenting these horrors, we are confronted with the cognitive dissonance prevailing here in the universities of the Global North, where life has continued on as if untouched by what we know is happening.

In a unified call for justice released on the 25th of October, 2023, over 15 Palestinian universities called upon the international academic community "to fulfill their intellectual and academic [duties] of seeking truth and holding the perpetrators of genocide accountable". We call on you, Trent Administration, to honour the plea of your colleagues in Palestine. Over 40,000 Palestinians have been brutally murdered, and every university in Gaza has been bombed and reduced to rubble. We cannot accept Trent University as an idle bystander to this horrific offence against scholarship and humanity. The act of complicity is not solely defined by direct involvement in crimes but also by the failure to act when there is a capacity to influence the situation. This applies to Trent University by virtue of its social standing and its intellectual authority as a post-secondary academic institution. Silence is not neutral; it is violent and deadly.

We question what you believe is being achieved by your current response or, more aptly, lack thereof. Complicity in genocide and scholasticide will not be forgotten. It will only become abundantly clearer that avoiding taking an explicit and principled stance does not protect Trent's reputation. Your silence implies a limit to your commitment to respecting and acknowledging Indigenous perspectives and knowledge, principles which you claim to prioritize in this institution. What does it say about your core values and interests when you boast our university's excellence in Indigenous scholarship but watch in silence as a colonial settler state systematically and violently destroys Indigenous scholarship in Gaza? What does ignoring Gaza say about Trent's commitment to the processes of Truth and Reconciliation for Canada's history of genocide? When you say Every Child Matters, this should apply to the approximately 15,000 children murdered in Israel's colonial project and the surviving children facing death, destruction, and famine in Palestine today. Without your condemnation of the Zionist state and its settler colonial agenda, it is understandable for onlookers to perceive Trent University's current silence as inconsistent with its brand.

Beyond the silence, we write to express our concern regarding financial and institutional ties with complicit entities. Provided the pattern that we have seen unfolding throughout post-secondary institutions across North America, we hold reasonable concern that Trent University may too be invested in actors implicated in Israel's crimes. The conspicuous absence of a public statement from Trent University affirming its lack of investment in complicit companies is a red flag that this pattern of financial complicity may indeed extend to our institution. This concern is reaffirmed by the fact that our faculty's pensions rely on funds that profit from genocide. The University Pension Plan Ontario has confirmed investments in companies with blood on their hands. The following is a list of key offenders which have substantial ties to the Israeli military:

ABB: $5-10 million invested.

ABB sponsors the control and motion laboratory at the Ruppin Academic Centre. Ruppin "develops cultural competency programs for the Israeli Defence Forces and Ministries of Education, the Interior, and Internal Security".

Bank of Nova Scotia: $5-10 million invested.

In October 2022, Scotiabank invested 500 million into the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems Ltd. which amounts to 5% of the company, making it the largest foreign investor.

Howmet: $5-10 million invested.

Howmet makes the fastening systems used on the F-35 Lightening II, a stealth fighter jet used by Israel to bombard Gaza. Howmet was targeted by activists in the UK in October, 2023.

Cadence Design Systems: $5-10 million invested.

Cadence provides software, hardware, and intellectual property for microchip design for aeronautics and defence manufacturers. One of Cadence's subsidiaries in Israel is the biggest EDA tools distributor in Israel, serving over 600 customers in industries including the military.

Safran: $10-25 million invested.

Safran is a major arms manufacturer that has established ties with the Israeli military through agreements to develop the Arrow 3 hypersonic ballistic missile system and partnership with Rafael Defence Systems Ltd. for battlefield targeting technology. Additionally, Safran has provided surveillance equipment to the Judea and Samaria police forces in the occupied West Bank. In March 2024, Safran's manufacturing facilities in Peterborough were targeted by protests regarding their links to the ongoing genocide. Moreover, there is evidence of more direct ties between Trent University and Safran in the recent past (2019) in the form of a co-op placement which continues to be advertised on the university's website. Trent has not come forward to announce the termination of any pre-existing and/or ongoing relationship with Safran since the beginning of this genocide despite protests in March 2024. The nature of Trent's relationship with Safran is unclear to the public, which, given Safran's involvement in crimes against humanity, is unacceptable.

We implore you to consider the lives at stake and the power you wield to promote peace and justice.

We demand that Trent University:

Condemn Israel's occupation, apartheid, genocide, and scholasticide in Gaza, and call on the Canadian government to uphold its humanitarian responsibilities and obligations on the world stage.

Disclose investments in, and institutional ties with, complicit institutions and companies including the nature of Trent's connections with Safran.

Divest and cut ties from all entities that might be connected to "plausibly genocidal acts" within the terms of the ICJ ruling.

Defend the right to protest by giving amnesty to all participants of our peaceful protest.

Support Palestinian scholarship.

As leaders of an academic institution, you do not have the excuse of ignorance. Fifty years from now, you cannot say you did not know. Let this not be your legacy.

Yours in protest,

Trent Students in Solidarity with Palestine

PS: Please see the updates to this letter, as of Sunday the 16th of May, 2024, made in bold.

258
signatures
222 verified
  1. Chanel Bowen, Trent University Alumna '19
  2. Emily Johnston, Trent Alumni ‘19, Peterborough
  3. Kristi Dallemagne, Mississauga
  4. ziggy allin, student, trent, Peterborough
  5. Max Schachter, Student, Trent University, Peterborough
  6. Vic Bell, Student, Trent University, Omemee
  7. Alix Lonsdale, Student, Trent, Peterborough
  8. Jackie Pordham, student, Trent University, Peterborough
  9. Jaiden Lang, Student, Lindsay
  10. Paula Kirby-Hypher, Student, Trent University, Toronto
  11. margot macdonell, Trent University, Peterborough
  12. Diane Therrien-Hale, ‘10, Senior Research Officer, CUPE, Peterborough
  13. Lavina Chowdhury, Student, Trent University, Peterborough
  14. Olivia Macmillan, Student, Trent university, Ottawa
  15. Maliha Mahjabeen, Student, Trent University, Peterborough
  16. Thanaa Lakehal, Student, Trent University, Peterborough
  17. Thanaa Lakehal, Student, Trent University, Peterborough
  18. Alina Hameed, Student, Trent University, peterborough
  19. Francesca Bravo, Trent Alumni, Trent University, Peterborough
  20. Suthy Or, Student, Trent University, Peterborough
...
182 more
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  1. Aly Smith, Student, Trent University, Peterborough
  2. Lara Merdian, Student, Trent University, Peterborough
  3. Franky Patten, Support worker, One City Ptbo, Nogojiwanong
  4. Kazimiro de Moraes, Student, Peterborough
  5. Abigail Barahona, Student, Trent University, Peterborough
  6. Aspen Deamond, Student, Trent University, Peterborough
  7. Jas Boyer
  8. Matthew Dutry, Alumnus, Trent University, Peterborough
  9. Mark Fields, Attorney, Fields Law
  10. micky renders, Ph.D Candidate, Queen's University, Peterborough
  11. Matt Giffen, Student, Trent University, PTBO + Durham
  12. Samuel Sullivan, Student, U of T, Mississauga
  13. Naajaki Shuthan, Ajax
  14. Sharon Walter, Trent Alumni, Trent University, Toronto
  15. Tanya Kranc, Educator, School board, Peterborough
  16. Caroline Durand, Trent, Peterborough
  17. carol andrews, Grad student, Trent, Nogojiwanong (Peterborough)
  18. Charlie Smith, Student, Trent University, Peterborough
  19. raeen sajjad, student, trent university, Peterborough
  20. Ursula Kranias-Stewart, Student, Trent University, Peterborough
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