Following extensive consultation and as part of La Trobe University’s commitment to eliminating all forms of discrimination, while upholding free speech and academic freedom, the University will adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism but without its eleven examples, and will adopt the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA) as guidelines. The University considers the adoption of the definitions and guidelines in this way will best support academic freedom and reasonable political debate. The University has also committed to a review of its internal processes around responding to antisemitism.
La Trobe University condemns all forms of discrimination, including racism, and we offer support to everyone who has experienced discrimination. At the same time, we uphold our obligation as a public institution to preserve free speech and academic freedom across our campus network.
Additionally, the University will explore the adoption of definitions of other forms of discrimination, including Islamophobia, as part of the development of an overarching anti-racism strategy. This is in addition to an existing range of University policies and procedures around anti-discrimination.
In 2022, the Parliamentary Friends of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) requested that La Trobe University adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism.
The University undertook an internal consultation process that provided staff and students with an opportunity to express their views about the adoption of a working definition of antisemitism.
To explore the suitability or otherwise of adopting a definition of antisemitism and, in particular, the IHRA definition, a Working Group of academics was established to develop recommendations for endorsement by La Trobe’s Academic Board.
In formulating its recommendations, the Working Group considered many representations made to La Trobe by community and government stakeholders on the matter, together with feedback submitted by La Trobe students and staff. It also reviewed and considered the approaches of other universities both in Australia and overseas.
The following recommendations made by the Working Group were endorsed by the University’s Academic Board on 19 July 2023.
In summary, the University will:
- Adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism but without its eleven examples. The University was concerned that adoption of the IHRA definition with the eleven examples could pose potential limitations to academic freedom and reasonable political debate which could be misclassified as antisemitic behaviour.
- Adopt the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA) guidelines, which the University considers will best support academic freedom and reasonable political debate.
- Review previous allegations or concerns of antisemitic behaviour and assess the ability of the University’s internal processes to respond to antisemitism, particularly in the context of adopting a working definition of antisemitism.
- Develop an Anti-Racism Strategy, and as a part of this work explore the adoption of definitions of other forms of discrimination including Islamophobia.