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PSC Supports Brooklyn College President in Her Defense of Academic Freedom
PSC President Barbara Bowen sent a letter supporting Brooklyn College President Karen Gould's defense of academic freedom and the Brooklyn College Political Science Department in their co-sponsorship of a forum on the BDS movement, which calls for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel.
Rudy Fichtenbaum, president of the American Association of University Professors, also wrote to President Gould praising her "courageous defense of the principles of academic freedom." (Read his letter.)
In her February 4 statement (Posted on the Brooklyn College Facebook page), President Gould said:
“Students and faculty, including academic departments, programs, and centers, have the right to invite speakers, engage in discussion, and present ideas to further educational discussion and debate. The mere invitation to speak does not indicate an endorsement of any particular point of view, and there is no obligation, as some have suggested, to present multiple perspectives at any one event.“
Gould’s defense of academic freedom drew fire from a group of politicians (their letter) who wrongly equate the political science department’s co-sponsorship of the forum with an endorsement of the views expressed by the BDS movement.
In a February 5 editorial, The New York Times said it “strongly defend[s] the decision by Brooklyn College President Karen Gould to proceed with the event, despite withering criticism by opponents and threats by at least 10 City Council members to cut city funding for the college. Such intimidation chills debate and makes a mockery of the ideals of academic freedom.”
Academic freedom is the "core ethos" of the university, according to resolution adopted on February 5 by the University Faculty Senate (UFS). The UFS resolution explained the problem with politicians' and other detractors' misrepresentation of co-sponsorship. "To assume that co-sponsoring a presentation means uncritical endorsement of one side or another would impose an ideological litmus test on all controversial debates," it said.
PSC President Bowen sent a second letter to this group of politicians saying “a college president who stands up for academic freedom at CUNY—where academic freedom has come under repeated assault in recent years—should be applauded by “progressive” politicians, not bullied.”
- Letter from Barbara Bowen to Karen Gould, President of Brooklyn College, February 4, 2013
- Letter from Barbara Bowen to Jerrold Nadler et al, February 5, 2013
- Letter from Rudy Fichtenbaum, President of the AAUP, to Karen Gould, President of Brooklyn College, February 6, 2013
- Letter from Randi Weingarten, President of the AFT, to Karen Gould, President of Brooklyn College, February 6, 2013
- University Faculty Senate Resolution, February 5, 2013
- "Litmus Tests,” February 4, 2013 editorial, New York Times
- Letter from 10 City Council Members, January 29, 2013, to Karen Gould, President of Brooklyn College, suggesting that funding might be withheld
- Letter from Councilman Jumaane Williams (whose 45th council district includes Brooklyn College) to Karen Gould, President of Brooklyn College, defending academic freedom and promising continued advocacy for the college's funding.
- Jerrold Nadler et al (17 NY politicians self-identifying themselves as ‘progressive’) letter to Karen Gould, President of Brooklyn College, asking that the Department of Political Science and Brooklyn College withdraw support for the BDS event, January 31, 2013
- Second letter (February 6, 2013) from Nadler et al refining their position
- Chronicle of Higher Education blog by Paisley Currah, Chairperson, Department of Political Science, Brooklyn College
- Blog on January 29, 2013 by Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, member of the CUNY Board of Trustees
- Inside Higher Education, February 5, 2013, “Who can speak at Brooklyn College?”
- Mayor Michael Bloomberg on academic freedom at Brooklyn College, February 6, 2013
- Karen Gould, President of Brooklyn College, letter to the college community, February 4, 2013. (This is on the college’s Facebook page. You will have to scroll down to Monday, February 4th to find it.)
- "Academic Freedom Vindicated in Brooklyn" by Stanley Fish, February 11, 2013, blog, New York Times
- "Austerity education kills dissent on Israel" " by Marissa Brostoff, February 6, 2013, Salon
- Corey Robin Blog. (Robin is a member of the Political Science department at Brooklyn. His blogs have lots of links.)
|Academic Freedom Letter To Politicians 02.05.13.pdf||163.02 KB|
|Academic Freedom Letter To Gould 02.05.13.pdf||103.7 KB|
|AAUP Letter To Gould 02.06.13.pdf||331.81 KB|
|CUNY UFS Brooklyn College Academic Freedom Resolution Feb 2013.pdf||19.06 KB|