Yossi Reshef affair: Wits verdict a triumph for academic freedom - SAJBD
Wits verdict says no to intimidation
The verdict against ten students guilty of misconduct during a concert at Wits University represents a resounding reaffirmation by Wits of the values of academic freedom, diversity and tolerance. In March last year, a group of demonstrators lead by members of the then Student Representative Council invaded the venue where Israeli-born pianist Yossi Reshef was giving a recital and prevented the event from continuing. This behavior was immediately condemned by the University leadership and steps were duly implemented to investigate the incident and call to book those responsible.
The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) applauds Wits University for taking a firm and unambiguous stand against those who abuse their right to protest by flouting the principles of academic freedom and unlawfully seeking to silence alternative viewpoints. The outcome of the above hearings sends out a clear message that Wits remains committed to providing a free, open environment in which the values freedom of expression and association are strenuously upheld and where any behavior aimed at preventing others from exercising those rights is not tolerated.
The SAJBD is hopeful that the satisfactory outcome to the Reshef affair will usher in a new era of mutual respect, trust and openness on Wits campus, one that provides safe spaces for the expression of diverse opinions and where people of differing viewpoints can learn from rather than try to silence one another.
Statement issued by David Saks, Associate Director: SAJBD, January 20 2014
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