PSC Supports Brooklyn College President in Her Defense of Academic Freedom

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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.”


Academic Freedom Letter To Politicians 02.05.13.pdf163.02 KB
Academic Freedom Letter To Gould 02.05.13.pdf103.7 KB
AAUP Letter To Gould 02.06.13.pdf331.81 KB
CUNY UFS Brooklyn College Academic Freedom Resolution Feb 2013.pdf19.06 KB
AFTtoGouldAcademicFreedomBC.pdf199.55 KB
JumaaneWilliamsToGould.pdf140.48 KB