A small number of students rallied Tuesday at the Humber Lakeshore campus against the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and the actions against a student who spoke out against the conflict by posting stickers.
Participants, some waving Palestinian flags and the keffiyeh, the Palestinian scarf that is a symbol of resistance, joined at least one Israeli student who held up a sign in Yiddish during the rally by the stage in the middle of the campus cottage buildings.
Hani Al Allaf, a Syrian-Canadian postgraduate student, 24, led the rally. He said he was asked to leave his class on Nov. 2 after he placed about a dozen stickers around campus featuring the Palestinian flag and the words “Boycott Israeli Apartheid.”
“I was pulled out of class by a representative of public safety and accused me of things I have not done and bullied me out of campus,” Al Allaf said in a social media post on Instagram which was then reposted on LinkedIn.
In his video, Al Allaf spoke about the Hamas-Israeli conflict. He said he took the initiative to place the stickers on campus and was later accused of antisemitism and defacing property.
Al Allaf said he was pulled away from class by Thomas Urbaniak, assistant manager of security operations, and was asked to leave campus.
“If I am found on any premises of Humber I would be arrested,” Al Allaf said in the video.
He said the public safety officer took a picture of his health card, the only form of ID he had on him at that time.
In an interview with Skedline, Al Allaf said Humber misconstrued his action and made false accusations.
“They have accused me of vandalizing and desecrating the campus grounds,” he said. “They took me out of class and kicked me out of campus. It clearly shows where Humber stands. I demand an apology and acknowledgment.”
An Israeli-Jewish student at the rally who said she was the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, held a sign that said in Yiddish, “Never again for anyone.” She urged the Canadian government to recognize the genocide and call for a ceasefire.
Other students also joined in, advocating for a ceasefire.
Humber’s Associate Director of Communications Emily Milic said in an email that the college responded to complaints about the stickers.
“Humber College received complaints about stickers that had been placed around the Lakeshore Campus in contravention of Humber policy,” she said in the email.
The Department of Public Safety removed the stickers and addressed the student responsible during a class, she said.
Milic said in the email the student was asked to leave the room for a conversation regarding the stickers and was asked to leave campus and wait to hear from the college.
Later the same day, the student was informed that they could return to campus and class, she said.
“We have put temporary measures in place to ensure that this does not happen in the future and are conducting a review of our processes,” Milic said in the email.” These measures include an additional risk assessment threshold that must be met in order to have students addressed during a class.”
Milic said requests to post materials can be sent to the Department of Campus Services and anything unauthorized that is posted would be removed, regardless of content.
Humber has also apologized to Al Allaf in a statement on its website.
“The college apologizes for the response being disproportionate to the student’s actions,” it reads. “We have put temporary measures in place to ensure that this does not happen in the future and are conducting a review of our processes.”
Al Allaf was not available for comment on Humber’s apology.
Humber’s faculty OPSEU Local 562 issued a statement Friday urging the college, that although it walked back from its initial response, it “has not acknowledged the full stakes of its actions and the chilling effect on our entire academic community” in terms of academic freedom.
“We join calls for senior management at the college to issue a public apology to the student and Humber community for wavering in upholding these principles, and to commit to change,” the local said.