California Scholars for Academic Freedom

Letter to President Oliver and Dean Boyle at Pitzer College in Support of Dr. Daniel Regal and Pitzer College Students who Sponsored the Motion to Suspend the Study Abroad Program at the University of Haifa, Israel.

  CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM

image.jpgimage-2.jpghttps://cascholars4academicfreedom.wordpress.com 

April 8, 2019

Melvin Oliver, President, Pitzer College

Nigel Boyle, Dean of the Faculty, Pitzer College

Dear President Oliver and Dean Boyle:

We write as representatives of California Scholars for Academic Freedom*, a group of over two hundred academics and intellectuals with a commitment to defend academic freedom and first amendment rights of faculty and students who teach and do research in California’s institutions of higher education. We write in support of Dr. Daniel Segal, Jean M. Pitzer Professor of Anthropology and Professor of History, and also the Pitzer College students who have sponsored the motion to suspend the College’s study abroad program at the University of Haifa. This motion was supported by a strong majority of the most representative Pitzer campus body, composed of students, faculty, and staff.

We have learned recently that in the weeks preceding the March 14 vote of the Pitzer College Council, Professor Segal and student supporters of the motion were the target of multiple attack campaigns. One of these took the form of a FaceBook meme with a photo of Dr. Segal labeled “creepy Dan” and accusing him of being “anti-Semitic.” That meme causes great concern, both for its libelous labeling and for its conflation of criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. Posters also appeared on campus with an image of masked “terrorists” and text insinuating that Pitzer would be supporting Hamas if they voted in favor of the motion. Those posters are of great concern because they employ tropes of hatred against Arabs, Muslims, and Palestinians and potentially expose students from those backgrounds to a heightened risk of violence. Evidently, on Friday, April 5, a group of outsiders came onto the Pitzer campus and distributed postcards depicting Professor Segal’s photo in a red circle with a red line through his face, calling him an anti-Semite. This sort of material poses real danger, for it encourages direct, violent targeting of Professor Segal. 

These and other incidents of vile and inflammatory postering and doxing aim to silence voices on campus concerned with Palestinian rights. We find it deeply troubling that neither the President nor the Dean of the Faculty of Pitzer College responded to these speech acts in order to counter them. We urge you to take all necessary steps to ensure that academic freedom and freedom of expression continue to thrive at your prestigious institution, as the Pitzer community continues to take up Palestinian rights in debate, motions, and votes. 

Contact persons on behalf of California Scholars for Academic Freedom:

Lisa Rofel,

Professor Emeritus

Department of Anthropology

University of California, Santa Cruz

Co-coordinator, California Scholars for Academic Freedom

LROFEL@ucsc.edu

Vida Samiian

Professor Emeritus of Linguistics

California State University, Fresno

Co-coordinator, California Scholars for Academic Freedom

vidas@mail.fresnostate.edu

Nancy Gallagher

Professor Emerita of History

University of California, Santa Barbara

Gallagher@ucsb.edu

Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, 

Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies, 

San Francisco State University

Ria55@sfsu.edu

David Palumbo-Liu,

Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor, and Professor of Comparative Literature

Stanford University.

palumbo-liu@stanford.edu

CC: Claudia Strauss, Chair of the Faculty Executive Committee (Claudia_Strauss@pitzer.edu)

       Mike Segwa, Vice President of Student Affairs (Mike_Segwa@pitzer.edu)

Harold Brown, Chair of the Board of Trustees (via Secretary Melanie_Lacy@Pitzer.Edu)

*CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM (cs4af) defends academic freedom, the right of shared governance, and the First Amendment rights of faculty and students in the academy and beyond. We recognize that violations of academic freedom anywhere are threats to academic freedom everywhere. California Scholars for Academic Freedom investigates legislative and administrative infringements on freedom of speech and assembly, and it raises the consciousness of politicians, university regents and administrators, faculty, students and the public at large through open letters, press releases, petitions, statements, and articles.

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April 14, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Letter to West Hollywood City Council re: change in rule to require city council approval of all pubic events

  CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM

image.jpgimage-2.jpghttps://cascholars4academicfreedom.wordpress.com 

April 1, 2019

City Council Members

West Hollywood

Dear West Hollywood City Council:

We write as representatives of California Scholars for Academic Freedom*, a group of over two hundred academics and intellectuals with a commitment to defend academic freedom and first amendment rights of faculty and students who teach and do research in California’s institutions of higher education. This includes their free speech rights in venues beyond the academy.

We understand that a proposal to require city council approval for all future events aims to censor (again) the screening of 1948: Creation and Catastrophe, a well-researched film based on sound historical scholarship. Directed by Professor Muhtaseb, an expert in media and communication studies, the documentary has been shown at many national and international events, and was nominated for an Al Ard XV Film Festival Award in Italy. 

A rule that seems neutral on its face can have discriminatory intent. To require the city council to approve future events will lead West Hollywood down the road of government interference and censorship in what should be a realm of free speech and free expression. 

 It appears that several Zionists have been lobbying you to adopt this proposal.  We urge you to stand firm and respect the right of  West Hollywood residents to see the film and decide for themselves.  If the documentary leads to debate, this is a healthy sign of a democratic system at work.  

On behalf of California Scholars for Academic Freedom,

Lisa Rofel,

Professor Emeritus

Department of Anthropology

University of California, Santa Cruz

Co-coordinator, California Scholars for Academic Freedom

LROFEL@ucsc.edu

Vida Samiian

Professor Emeritus of Linguistics

California State University, Fresno

Co-coordinator, California Scholars for Academic Freedom

vidas@mail.fresnostate.edu

Sang Hea Kil

Associate Professor

“Justice” Studies Department

San José State University

sangheakil@gmail.com

Nancy Gallagher

Professor Emerita of History

University of California, Santa Barbara

Gallagher@ucsb.edu

Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, 

Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies, 

San Francisco State University

Ria55@sfsu.edu

Professor Shahla Razavi,

Associate Professor, Mathematics

Mt. San Jacinto College

Srazavi2004@yahoo.com

Professor David Lloyd

Distinguished Professor and Chair
Department of English
University of California
Riverside

dclloyd@ucr.edu

 

Dennis Kortheuer

Lecturer Emeritus, History

California State University, Long Beach

dennis.kortheuer@csulb.edu

 

*CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM (cs4af) defends academic freedom, the right of shared governance, and the First Amendment rights of faculty and students in the academy and beyond. We recognize that violations of academic freedom anywhere are threats to academic freedom everywhere. California Scholars for Academic Freedom investigates legislative and administrative infringements on freedom of speech and assembly, and it raises the consciousness of politicians, university regents and administrators, faculty, students and the public at large through open letters, press releases, petitions, statements, and articles.

April 1, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment