California Scholars for Academic Freedom

Letter to University of California Senate Chairs re Granting Librarians the Right to Academic Freedom

  CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM

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August 27, 2018

Dear UC Senate Chair, 

On July 26, 2018 UC negotiators rejected a proposal by the UC-AFT Unit 17 that academic freedom be recognized as a right of all librarians as academic employees. UC negotiators reportedly argued that academic freedom is granted only to faculty and students “to enable free expression in the classroom,” that it is “a professional standard established by faculty, for faculty,” and that their position was consistent with “AAUP’s stance on Academic Freedom.” 

In fact, in this and other regards their decision is based on faulty premises and troubling assumptions regarding the actual role that librarians play in the educational enterprise. Contrary to UC claims, CS4AF maintains that academic freedom should be recognized for librarians not just because they are faculty, but, more fundamentally, because they are “academic” employees. There is a reason why we call it “academic” freedom and not “faculty” freedom. And this reason is that academic freedom is a function of shared governance and, specifically, of the need for a strong barrier to exist between the pyramidal administrative and financial structures and the peer-to-peer process of academic truth-seeking. Today, librarians are situated at the forefront of this perennial contest. Rapid technological changes leading to issues of open access and intellectual rights give them a key role in the defense of academic freedom for all. Being granted recognition of their academic freedom is not only a right, but also a timely and necessary step to reinforce shared governance against its steady erosion at all levels of higher education.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has directly rejected UC negotiators’ claims and clarified that since 1972 it has recognized librarians as faculty (Joint Statement on Faculty Status of College and University Librarians). In fact, the California Faculty Association (CFA) librarians are considered as belonging to the “faculty unit employee,” and the Council of University of California Faculty Associations (CUCFA) and the California Conference of AAUP chapters (CA-AAUP) have jointly supported UC-AFT Unit 17’s request that all librarians be “entitled to academic freedom, as their primary responsibility to their institution and profession is to seek, state, and act according to the truth as they see it.” California Scholars for Academic Freedom (CS4AF)** joins CFA, CUCFA and CA-AAUP in recognizing all librarians as faculty, but also wishes to call attention to, and reject the faulty reasoning of UC negotiators who reportedly tied academic freedom to “teaching” and argued that it was a “professional standard established by faculty, for faculty.”

Although historically academic freedom may have arisen from issues related to teaching, it has long been extended to research and other areas of academic endeavor. In fact, there are no provisions in the UC Academic Personnel Manual that tie academic freedom to the “instructor of record” or limit its extension to persons other than faculty and students. Furthermore the 2013 Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA) states explicitly that “it is the policy of the State of California to encourage the pursuit of excellence in teaching, research, and learning through the free exchange of ideas among the faculty, students, and staff of the University of California” and that “all parties subject to this chapter shall respect and endeavor to preserve academic freedom in the University of California.” 

We are therefore both baffled and concerned by UC administrators’ restrictive and unfounded claims that academic freedom is tied to the sole exercise of teaching. This is not the way to respect and preserve academic freedom. Rather, it seems a deliberate and arbitrary attempt to limit its application.

California Scholars for Academic Freedom urges all Academic Senate Chairs in the UC system to advise UC President Napolitano to recognize librarians’ right to academic freedom.

Sincerely,

California Scholars for Academic Freedom

Contact Persons:

Sondra Hale Research Professor/Professor Emerita, 

Anthropology and Gender Studies, 

UCLA

sonhale@ucla.edu

Nancy Gallagher

Professor Emerita of History

UCSB

gallagher@ucsb.edu

Lisa Rofel

Research Professor, Department of Anthropology

Co-Director, Center for Emerging Worlds

UCSC

lisarofel@gmail.com

David Lloyd, 

Distinguished Professor of English, 

University of California, Riverside

dclloyd@ucr.edu​​

**CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM (cs4af) is a group of over 200 scholars

who defend academic freedom, the right of shared governance, and the First Amendment rights of faculty and students in the academy and beyond. 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. Our vigilance extends to violations of academic freedom anywhere in the United States and abroad, for we recognize that violations of academic freedom anywhere are threats to academic freedom everywhere.

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August 30, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Letter to Major General Kamil Abu Rukon about systematic interference by Israeli authorities in Palestinian education, academic freedom, freedom to travel and to teach, study and research

  CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM

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August 25, 2018

To: Major General Kamil Abu Rukon

Commander of Israel Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT)

Dear Commander,

We write on behalf of California Scholars for Academic Freedom (cs4af)* to express our profound concern at the systematic interference by Israeli authorities in Palestinian education, academic freedom, and freedom to travel and to teach, study and research.

While Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its blockade of Gaza have had a serious and widely reported negative impact on Palestinian educational institutions in many areas and over many decades, at the present time we are specifically concerned with the impact of Israeli government policy on faculty at Palestinian institutions who hold foreign passports and face unjustifiable denials of work permits in order to carry out their regular teaching and research duties. It seems to us an intolerable contradiction to require work permits and then regularly deny them to faculty from overseas. This policy has resulted in numerous faculty who hold foreign passports, and are of Palestinian and other national origins, being declared “illegal” when they engage in teaching and research at Palestinian universities. This policy threatens both their right to reside in Palestine and their freedom to travel, and is a serious violation of academic freedom, including the right to travel for the purpose of conducting and presenting research. Likewise, it interferes with the capacity of such faculty to participate in and contribute fully in the intellectual and cultural life of their own and other Palestinian institutions.  

International academics seeking to enter or work in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) have long faced obstacles, but the situation has dramatically declined over the past year. Since 2017, foreign nationals wishing to maintain a presence in the oPt, whether for reasons of work or family unity, have faced an alarming escalation in the rejection of visa extension requests and in the frequency and range of arbitrary demands and conditions imposed by Israeli authorities. Palestinian educational institutions have been hard hit by Israeli denials or restrictions on entry and presence in the oPt, as evidenced by the recent survey of Palestinian universities undertaken by the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MOEHE). Of the eight universities responding, over half of all foreign national faculty and staff have been negatively affected over the past two academic years, causing serious disruption to the academic programs and administration of these institutions. Moreover, it has undermined Palestinian universities’ ability to attract further external expertise as foreign academics are deterred from accepting teaching and research posts by the arbitrary rejections and destructive restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities.

Restrictions of these kinds seriously impede the capacity of Palestinian society to maintain and reproduce its intellectual and artistic culture.  The systematic and regular nature of the obstacles posed by Israel’s occupation and blockade to the normal course of Palestinian education suggest interference is deliberate and purposive.

We believe that academic freedom and the right to education are fundamental and universal, and include not only the right to study, research and publish without censure or interference, but also the right to such social and political conditions as enable the enjoyment of those rights.

We therefore condemn in the strongest possible terms Israel’s ongoing interference with Palestinian academic freedom as a violation of human rights and international law. We call on the responsible authorities to cease imposing impossible conditions on our colleagues who seek to work at Palestinian institutions and instead to facilitate their entry and their residence in accord with fundamental principles of academic freedom. 

We also request that US representatives (whether diplomats, members of Congress or international organizations) advocate vigorously for the rights of Palestinian scholars and the autonomy of Palestinian universities, urge other scholarly organizations to speak forcefully about the threat to the Palestinian academy, and alert academic institutions throughout the world that Palestinian colleagues need our moral and substantive support on an ongoing basis.

Yours sincerely, 

California Scholars for Academic Freedom

Contacts:

Sondra Hale, Anthropology and Gender Studies, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); email: sonhale@UCLA.edu; phone: 310-836-5121

David Lloyd, Distinguished Professor of English, University of California, Riverside; email: dclloyd@ucr.edu; Phone: 951-827-1459

Stephen Roddy, Professor of Modern & Classical Languages, University of San Francisco

**CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM (cs4af) is a group of over 200 scholars

who defend academic freedom, the right of shared governance, and the First Amendment rights of faculty and students in the academy and beyond. 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. Our vigilance extends to violations of academic freedom anywhere in the United States and abroad, for we recognize that violations of academic freedom anywhere are threats to academic freedom everywhere.

August 25, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Letter to King of Saudi Arabia asking for the release of Dr. Hatoon Al-Fassi and other women detained for political activism

  CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM

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July 31, 2018​​

His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

King of Saudi Arabia and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques 

Office of His Majesty the King

Royal Court 

Riyadh

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Your Majesty:

We write on behalf of California Scholars for Academic Freedom (cs4af),** an organization of more than 200 academics who teach in some 20 California institutions and who are committed to the defense of academic freedom here and abroad.  We respectfully urge you to call on the appropriate authorities to immediately release Dr. Hatoon Al-Fassi, who is currently detained. 

Dr. al-Fassi is an associate professor of women’s history at King Saud University, a contributor to Saudi Arabia’s al-Riyadh newspaper, and a renowned women’s rights activist. She was arrested between June 21 and June 24, 2018, in apparent retaliation for her women’s rights activism, including her leadership in the movement to lift the ban on women driving. 

As of this letter, the circumstances surrounding her arrest remain unclear. Public information regarding Dr. Al-Fassi’s current status, including her location, a possible court date, whether she has counsel, or the specific charges against her, if any, is unavailable. 

We further understand that Dr. Al-Fassi’s detention comes against the backdrop of a series of state efforts, starting in May 2018, to detain women’s rights defenders and other activists. These other women include Loujain al-Hathloul, a social media figure; Aziza Al-Yousef, a mother of five; Eman Al-Nafjan, a university professor, and Madeha Alajroush, a psychotherapist who was part of a group of 40 women who challenged Saudi Arabia’s driving ban in 1990.

Authorities have accused the activists of having suspicious contacts with, and providing support to, “foreign entities;” however, they have not publicly disclosed the evidentiary bases for these accusations. Some of those detained have been released temporarily, while those still in custody have reportedly been denied access to family and legal counsel. These actions appear to uniformly target activists like Dr. Al-Fassi, who have worked for political reform, including lifting the driving ban.

We welcome any additional information that may explain these events or clarify our understanding. Absent this, the facts as described suggest that Dr. Al-Fassi is being detained as a result of the nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association—conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Saudi Arabia is a party.

We therefore respectfully urge you to direct the appropriate authorities to release Dr. Al-Fassi and other women detained for political activism and otherwise to ensure that any case against them proceeds in a manner consistent with Saudi Arabia’s obligations under international law, including those relating to due process and fair trial.

We appreciate your attention to this important matter and look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

California Scholars for Academic Freedom

Contact Persons:

Professor Emerita Lisa Rofel,

Department of Anthropology

University of California, Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, California 

USA

LROFEL@ucsc.edu

Professor Suad Joseph,

Distinguished Research Professor

University of California, Davis

Davis, California

USA

sjoseph@ucdavis.edu

Professor Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi

Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies

College of Ethnic Studies

San Francisco State University

San Francisco, California 

USA

amed@sfsu.edu

Professor Vida Samiian

Professor of Linguistics and Dean Emerita

College of Arts and Humanities

California State University, Fresno

Fresno, California

USA

vidas@mail.fresnostate.edu

**** CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM (cs4af) is a group of scholars who defend 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.

Cc: His Royal Highness Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud 

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense

His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz Bin Saud Bin Naif Bin Abdulaziz,  Minister of Interior

The Honorable Dr. Waleed bin Mohammad Al Samaani, Minister of Justice

His Royal Highness Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States

The Honorable Mike Pompeo, United States Secretary of State

The Honorable Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Honorable David Kaye, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression 

The Honorable Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

The Honorable Christopher Henzel, Chargé d’Affaires a.i, U.S. Embassy, Saudi Arabia

Senator Kamala Harris, United States Senate

Senator Diane Feinstein, United States Senate

 

August 1, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment