A motion put forth by McGill University students who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has failed.

Students had initially voted earlier this week in favour of the motion to boycott Israel, which was put forth by a group called the McGill BDS Action Network.

But the initial vote then had to be ratified. In the online ratification process, 57 per cent (or 2,819 people) voted against while 43 per cent (2,119 people) voted in favour.

The university had declined to comment on the vote until the ratification process was complete. In a statement published to McGill's website, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier explained why the university's administration "steadfastly" opposes the BDS movement.

"The BDS movement, which among other things, calls for universities to cut ties with Israeli universities, flies in the face of the tolerance and respect we cherish as values fundamental to a university. It proposes actions that are contrary to the principles of academic freedom, equity, inclusiveness and the exchange of views and ideas in responsible, open discourse. These are the core principles of McGill University," she said.

The initial vote, which took place during a general assembly at the university, drew about 900 people.

Students have now voted down three separate BDS-related votes at McGill in the last 18 months.

Over the last week, Jewish students at the school have reported being the targets of anti-Semitic slurs and feeling generally unsafe on campus. McGill's Provost Christopher Manfredi said no official complaints have been lodged so far, adding inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated and will be taken seriously.

McGill's donors have also threatened to pull their financial support to the school over the results of the initial vote. Manfredi said the university has been speaking with donors and hopes they will be encouraged by today's vote.