Nursing student suspended

Discipline allegedly results from ‘expressing opposition to Israel’s extreme violence against Palestinians,’ lobby group says

Fourth-year nursing student Arij Al Khafagi is facing academic discipline following what lobbyists say were social media posts “expressing her opposition to Israel’s extreme violence against Palestinians in Gaza.”

Al Khafagi, senior stick of the Nursing Students’ Association, confirmed her suspension on her Instagram on Nov. 23. The Manitoban was unable to confirm the reason for her suspension.

One group, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), began a campaign to email administration at the U of M urging Al Khafagi’s reinstatement, and for her academic record, which CJPME says currently has a five-year reprimand, to be cleared. 

At the time of publication, 10,473 emails have been sent.

Al Khafagi has a history of activism for several communities. In 2020, she was one recipient of U of M’s Emerging Leaders award, given to students “recognized for outstanding contributions.”

Al Khafagi did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The Manitoban contacted the U of M requesting to speak with U of M president Michael Benarroch or a representative from the college of nursing, and was instead provided with a written statement on behalf of the university.

U of M spokesperson Eleanor Coopsammy cited privacy as the reason disciplinary cases could not be discussed further, but said that “The university does not suspend students for exercising freedom of speech.”

In the statement, she pointed to the university’s respectful workplace and learning environment policy and the violent and threatening behaviour policy, as well as the academic and non-academic misconduct guidelines. 

The statement said that decisions regarding disciplinary cases are only made following consideration of the evidence and circumstances, and that students have the opportunity to appeal if they wish.

The same message was communicated to students in the college of nursing.