As the citizens of Israel and Gaza continue to experience violence amidst the ongoing conflict in the region, members of the Western community are in deep pain.
We are seeing active and ongoing dialogue about these events, and we are supporting our students and other community members to ensure these conversations take place peacefully, respectfully, and safely.
Yesterday, we became aware of comments made online by Sh. Aarij Anwer, who acts in a volunteer capacity to counsel and support Muslim students at Western. His comments do not align with Western’s commitment to peaceful and respectful dialogue.
Sh. Anwer will no longer serve in this volunteer position. In these roles, chaplains are meant to support all faith groups even while focusing on members whose particular faith they share.
We want to reiterate that Western steadfastly supports our Palestinian, Muslim, Jewish and Israeli communities. As a university, we are committed to fostering an environment where all members of our community can feel safe, welcomed, heard, and supported.
This commitment is jeopardized when our leaders, even those in volunteer positions, make divisive statements.
As we seek a new Muslim chaplain, we will ensure our Muslim and Palestinian community members feel our support and can share their thoughts. We will also consult with our Muslim community leaders to seek their advice.
We implore our community to come together, to support each other – no matter our background, and to engage in respectful, peaceful, and productive debate.
Alan Shepard, President
Opiyo Oloya, Associate Vice-President, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion