By Colin Campbell, The Baltimore Sun
6:50 PM EST, December 23, 2013
The University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, joined a group of other U.S. universities in opposing a boycott of Israeli academic institutions announced by the American Studies Association this week.
The association, a group of about 5,000 American history and culture professors and scholars, said the boycott is aimed at Israeli policies infringing on human rights and the educational freedoms of Palestinians. Two thirds of the 1,252 members who voted on the resolution supported the boycott.
"The resolution is in solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom and it aspires to enlarge that freedom for all, including Palestinians," an announcement on the association's website said.
University of Maryland President Wallace Loh and Provost Mary Ann Rankin called the boycott "a break of the principle of academic freedom" in a joint statement Monday.
"Faculty, students, and staff on our campus must remain free to study, do research, and participate in meetings with colleagues from around the globe," their statement said, and added that Maryland has no plans to sever those ties.
Johns Hopkins President Ronald Daniels and Provost Robert Lieberman sent a similar statement to students, faculty and staff.
"Johns Hopkins stands for the belief that we will advance the human condition through dialogue rather than isolation, and the dissemination of knowledge rather than its restriction," they said in their rejection of the boycott.
UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski and Provost Philip Rous called the boycott "inconsistent with the tenets of academic freedom."
Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust, Yale President Peter Salovey and two premier associations of U.S. university professors and presidents also voiced their opposition for such boycotts.
Faust said academic boycotts in general "subvert the academic freedoms and values necessary to the free flow of ideas." Salovey called the boycott "antithetical to the fundamental values of scholarship and academic freedom."
"Efforts to address political issues, or to address restrictions on academic freedom, should not themselves infringe upon academic freedom," the group of presidents, known as the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities, argued in its statement.
"In the United States, we can disagree with the governmental policies of a nation without sanctioning the universities of that nation, or the American universities that collaborate with them," Maryland's Loh and Rankin said. "To restrict the free flow of people and ideas with some universities because of their national identity is unwise, unnecessary, and irreconcilable with our core academic values."
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