U of R Continues to seek controversial partnership

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An encampment for displaced Palestinians

An encampment for displaced Palestinians

Ethical concerns persist over Israel partnership

Article: Eman Bare – News Writer

The University of Regina is still in the process of considering a partnership with Hebrew University that many internal voices suggest could be harmful to the school’s reputation.

“What is particularly worrisome is that there appears to be ties between the Policing and Homeland Security Studies Program in the Faculty of Law at Hebrew University and the Israeli police and Israeli Defense Force,” says Sean Tucker, a business professor at the U of R. “Given the human rights situation in the occupied territories [Palestine], and the relationship between the Policing and Homeland Security Studies program and the Israeli security forces, I could not, as a matter of conscience, support a partnership.”

The policing and homeland security studies program offers classes in policing terrorism, political violence and protesting policing, minorities and law enforcement, and terrorism and crime.

These courses, as well as the overall homeland security studies program, appears to be more suited towards a police college.

It has been suggested through documents from the school of business that the police college has stated their interest in a working partnership in the area of public safety.

In the official Kenneth Levene Graduate School of Business Public Safety Management Proposal, it says that, “The University of Regina has been approached regarding the possibility of collaborating with the Canadian police services, the RCMP, and other Public Safety Management.”

Additionally, the Dean of Business, Andrew Gaudes, said in an interview on Jan. 22, 2014, “We’ve seen a lot of great interest across the area of public safety, first responders and police in a program like this that advances the skill set of a technical background, police for example to have better understanding of the decision making.”

However, Mitch Crumley, the Head of the Police College, says that neither he nor his college has expressed any sort of interest in an international partnership with Hebrew University.

In fact, Crumley seemed entirely unaware of any sort of potential partnership between Hebrew University and the University of Regina in an email interview.

A letter written by University of Regina faculty members reads, “The MBA, which is geared towards first responders and other public safety professionals seeking formal management and leadership education, is a collaboration between the Faculty of Business and the Department of Justice Studies in the Faculty of Arts. The Regina Police Services, the Saskatchewan Police College at the University of Regina, and the RCMP have been involved with the program’s development.”

“It almost sounds like we are talking about two different projects. Are you certain that we are on the same page?” said Crumely, when he was asked about the possibility of developing a program with Hebrew University.

He says that he proposed the idea of different programs within the university working together, in a program related to public safety. However, there was no mention of an international program and definitely not one with Hebrew University.

“The Police College has evolved in its training delivery to include extensive use of scenario based training. We place recruits into scenarios staffed by actors (outside professionals, or if the tactics that are potentially used include use of force, serving police officers) and challenge them with real life scenarios they encounter. The proposal that was discussed with the other faculties here at the University, to be clear, centered around expanding these scenarios to other disciplines who may wish to challenge their own students in similar ways – perhaps over a day or two. While I am not sure what you meant in your email, it certainly was not intended to be anything like a “boot camp” (as I have seen outlined in the media) – rather, an opportunity for cross-pollination of the disciplines inside a safe learning environment.”

In order to ensure that the police were not being consulted during this process, the Saskatchewan Police Commission was also approached, to see if perhaps the provincial office had any information on the partnership.

According to Rick Peach, the Executive Direction of the Saskatchewan Police Commission, any information on a partnership or working relationship of this nature would be found through the police college.

Janice Wilby, the Communication Director of the Saskatchewan Police Commission, also said that the police college would be the appropriate sources to speak with.

Additionally, when the President Vianne Timmons responded to a letter from the Independent Jewish Voices Canada that stated their disapproval of working with any Israeli universities, she copied the email to business, psychology, justice studies and grad studies. The police college was not included, which draws the conclusion that they were not part of the decision making process, even though that has been repeatedly suggested.

Although it remains unknown how the Police College’s suggestion for an internal program developed into working with schools in Israel, they have no interest in working with Hebrew University in the matters of policing and homeland security, nor were they aware such a partnership was being considered.

In 2012, President Vianne Timmons had the opportunity to visit Israel, along with several other university representatives from across Canada. As reported by the President’s office, the Israeli government paid for the visit.

Although Andrew Gaudes, the Dean of Business insists that the possibility of working with these controversial schools would remain in the realm of academics, the President touring these schools on a trip paid for by the Israeli government has raised questions and concerns among some faculty members

Additionally, in the May 1, 2013 debates and proceedings of the Legislative Assembling of Saskatchewan, Premier Brad Wall is quoted saying, “In fact, Mr. Speaker, later this day the ambassador will meet with U of R [University of Regina] officials to explore the development of a joint MBA [Master of Business Administration] program in public safety. The program is being developed by the U of R’s Faculty of Business Administration and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.”

This raises questions as to whether or not the current position of the university, in terms of partnering with institutions in Israel has been in discussion behind closed doors for much longer than is being admitted to.

It also raises questions as to why the Vianne Timmons insisted she had no position in responding to questions about the partnerships in question.

Further, this quote from Brad Wall highlights that officials from the University of Regina were in discussion with representatives from Hebrew University for a “joint-partnership”, even though officials from the university have insisted on several occasion that no “joint-partnership”, or “partnership” was being pursued, or were ever being pursued.

Image: Marius Arnesen

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