CUNY President Responds to Idiotic Attacks on Academic Freedom

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CUNY President Responds to Idiotic Attacks on Academic Freedom

advocate for gun control? 

Academic freedom is precisely the freedom to express a position even when that position is deeply unpopular.  By voting to co-sponsor a forum that is expected to advocate for policies that have engendered intense opposition (such as the proposal that Israeli universities be boycotted—a position the PSC is on record as opposing), the Political Science Department is exercising academic freedom and supporting free speech.  Neither the College nor the Department has done anything to prevent the organizing of forums expressing opposing points of view.  Most dangerous of your distortions is the demand that Brooklyn College “must stand firmly” against the decision of its Political Science Department.  It is not clear what is meant by that demand, but any action against the faculty for their exercise of academic freedom would be an assault on the University as a whole and a violation of the contract with the union.  The demand should be immediately retracted.

The strategy of your letter is to conflate the views of individual speakers with the views of the Department or the College.  You worry that by co-sponsoring the forum the Department sends “the message . . . to the world that the divisive perspective offered by the organizing groups is Brooklyn College’s official view.”  You suggest, outrageously, that by allowing the forum to be held the College has decided to “take sides and [refused] to permit all voices to be heard.”  The College has done nothing of the kind.  In her letter to the Brooklyn College community on January 28, 2013, President Karen L. Gould explicitly refutes the conflation you make:

Unfortunately, some may believe that our steadfast commitment to free speech
signals an institutional endorsement of a particular point of view.  Nothing could
be further from the truth.  Brooklyn College does not endorse the views of the
speakers visiting our campus next week, just as it has not endorsed those of previous
visitors to our campus with opposing views.

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.  We appreciate that many of you have spoken up in the past for resources for CUNY, but the progressive position would be to defend academic freedom at the City University, and defend it fiercely.  Progressive elected officials would insist, as the PSC does, that  CUNY students, no less than students at elite private universities, are entitled to a university where “the indispensable quality of  institutions of higher education”—academic freedom—is maintained.  We invite you to join us in that position; we call on you immediately to withdraw the demands of your letter and to communicate to the Brooklyn College community your support for President Gould's position.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Barbara Bowen
President, Professional Staff Congress/CUNY

Comments [1]

Grace Moon's picture

this is a fab response.

this is a fab response. wonder if any of these canidates will read it.

tweet tweet @gracemoon