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U of A fires director of Sexual Assault Centre for signing letter questioning attacks on Israeli women

The University of Alberta has fired the director of the Sexual Assault Centre. Eric Beck, Global News

The University of Alberta has fired Samantha Pearson, the director of the Sexual Assault Centre after she signed an open letter penned by ousted Ontario MPP Sarah Jama that calls into question whether Israeli women were subjected to rape and sexual violence during a Hamas attack on Oct. 7.

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Jama, an Independent MPP from Hamilton, Ont., was the letter’s first signatory. She was booted from the NDP caucus last month after making controversial comments in support of Palestinians.

Pearson signed the letter on behalf of the University of Alberta Sexual Assault Centre.

In a statement Saturday, the university’s president and vice-chancellor Bill Flanagan said: “I want to be clear that the former employee’s personal views and opinions do not in any way represent those of the University of Alberta.”

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“The University of Alberta stands firmly and unequivocally against discrimination and hatred on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, national origin, and other protected categories. We recognize the historical and ongoing harms of antisemitism and commit to doing all we can as a university to advance a world free of prejudice and discrimination,” Flanagan said.

The open letter states the accusations that Palestinians were guilty of sexual violence were “unverified.”

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Premier Danielle Smith also released a statement on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter supporting the university’s decision. “I unequivocally agree with The University of Alberta’s decision to dismiss the director. All spaces including university campuses need to be safe for all. Anti-semitism of any kind must not be tolerated.”

The university has appointed a new interim director of the Sexual Assault Centre.


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