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St Andrews Rector Faces Calls to Resign Over “Divisive” Email to Students

Updated: Nov 27, 2023


St Andrews University’s newly elected Rector, Stella Maris, is facing calls to quit the role within two months of having been elected.


Just before 4PM on Tuesday 21 November, the Rector sent an email to students entitled “Call for Immediate Ceasefire: Rector's Statement on the Israeli - Palestine Conflict”. Therein, subsequent to an opening “trigger warning”, Maris advocates “for an immediate ceasefire”, as well as recognition and condemnation of acts that “are internationally regarded as humanitarian and war crimes”.


Underscoring the poignancy of recent vigils that had taken place within the town, and the scale of the casualties resulting from the conflict, Maris explains to the students she represents, “I must be honest about my stance, allowing myself to be guided by my commitment to preserving life and my firm stance against violence. Therefore, I take full responsibility for the sentiments expressed in this message, recognising my role as an independent voice and advocate for all students. While I acknowledge that some may not agree with my perspective, it is imperative to state unequivocally that peace is my guiding philosophy”.


In response to this email, an open letter has been created and signed by more than 1400 students, according to The Telegraph. This letter expresses concern “that [Maris’] letter does not demonstrate equal care for Palestinian and Israeli lives”. The letter asserts that Maris fails to acknowledge Hamas’ “central role in starting this war” and “wanton disregard for the lives of the Palestinian civilians it governs”. Additionally, the letter criticises “the way in which [Maris appears] to justify the acts of terrorism witnessed on 7th October, where [Maris has] appealed to the student body to ‘appreciate the deep-seated grievances and frustrations’ behind said actions”. The letter’s principal grievance consists in the fact that Maris does “not care to mention, let alone demonstrate regard for, the two St Andrews students who were recently attacked because of their religion”. This latter comment refers to recent attacks in St Andrews in which one student’s Star of David was ripped from her neck and a multitude of Jewish students had eggs thrown at them.


One of the most explicit concerns held by some of those who have signed the open letter to Maris referred to one of the sources found in the further links provided at the end of Maris' email. One of the media provided, the website Electronic Intifada, led on its homepage with an article claiming that Israel had “killed its own citizens” on 7 October 2023. This resource bank has been edited since the email was initially sent, with the link to Electronic Intifada being removed. Regarding the initial inclusion of Electronic Intifada, Maris has said "they provide evidence for their claims in their articles".


The open letter, in the case where the Rector does not provide “a retraction and clarification” of the contents of her email, calls for her “immediate resignation”. Maris has told BBC Scotland News "she would not be resigning and insisted she had done the right thing".


In response to this open letter, the University of St Andrews’ Senior Leadership team issued a statement, on Friday 24 November, saying “we are utterly dismayed that the Rector, on this occasion, put her right to freedom of expression ahead of her duty to represent all students, and to be concerned for their welfare”. Its signatories go on to reiterate that “diversity, inclusion, and tolerance are at the heart of what this University stands for. We ignore those values at our peril, and we expect everyone who is part of this community to abide by them”.


On Saturday 25 November, Maris issued the following statement publicly: “I reject the notion that my email about the Israel-Palestine conflict was antisemitic. In my email, I not only denounce antisemitism but also clarify that opposing the actions of the Israeli government is not equivalent to antisemitism”. Explaining that her use of the terms "genocide" and "apartheid" in the original email were not to be perceived as an attack on Jewish people or adherents to the religion, she clarifies, “I regret not referencing in my statement two publicly reported events of antisemitism that occurred in St Andrews. I condemn these attacks and am saddened that our community experienced such hatred”.


On Sunday 26 November, St Andrews Jewish Society published a statement accusing Maris of using her platform to "create division and foster hate in the St Andrews community". "I will not have antisemitism weaponised against me," Maris soon responded via an Instagram comment, "you will never intimidate me into not speaking truth to power".


On Monday 27 November, Maris posted on her Rector Instagram account a collection of stories. Some included links to third-party reports on the Israel-Palestine conflict, others shared with her followers various messages, both of criticism and of support, she had received on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, and by email. Maris captioned one story "I don't hate Jewish people. Stop being weird".


Updated on 26 November 2023 to include the statement issued by the St Andrews Jewish Society and Rector Stella Maris' response.


Updated on 27 November 2023 to include Maris' responses via the stories of her Rector Instagram account.


As this story continues to break, this article shall be periodically updated.


Photo: The University of St Andrews

2,032 views7 comments

댓글 7개


Michael Gordon
Michael Gordon
2023년 11월 28일

In my days we had CP Snow. She is not in his league. Maybe she should ask the child who watched her parents shot in front of her eyes. anti-Zionisim is the new antisemism. It's not about religion it's about the destruction of a people who are Jewish. Hamas also too Thai workers and killed many. I guess she can overlook rape of women including gang raped and incineration.

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Michael Gordon
Michael Gordon
2023년 11월 27일

She fulfills the criteria of a know nothing as my Lithuanian grandmother used to say in Yiddish "garnischt visin"

Michael Gordon MD

Class of 66 St Andrews

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Stella makes her priorities clear 1. re-engaging with the community

2. moving house

...

Physical attacks against students.



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I think it is pertinent to mention that an open letter in support of Rector Maris has been circulating and has received upwards of 1500 signatures. I am disappointed— though, truthfully, not surprised — that the Saint failed to reference this.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfPWf170ZJyjS_Algdg3deQ18QGM4EZ60BXa29qmkuwA1uAzQ/viewform

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Sifp1608
Sifp1608
2023년 11월 26일
답글 상대:

being shared on X by random people with no connection to the university. This letter simply does not carry the same weight as the other.

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Here’s the open letter if anyone is interested in reading in full https://forms.gle/Fdijdjw9p7CKvco98

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