Four student groups at York University in Canada were fined for disrupting classes during their attempts to shout one another down over the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Their yelling and screaming made it impossible for professors and their students to function. A York official commented: “considering students had been out for 12 weeks(during a strike) and some were sitting mid-term tests,” this kind of disruption was the last thing they needed. The university is also investigating complaints that a student engaged in anti-semitic comments towards a group of his fellow students.
The issue of the right of students to protest is among the most critical for the intellectual life of a university. The essence of an open forum to debate and discuss issues is vital if universities fulfill their obligation to be open to all views. However, engaging in shouting matches while other students are attempting to learn violates their right to gain knowledge. Perhaps, the best solution is to compel the pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups to engage in a week long series of debates.