Anthropologists In Defense of Intellectual and Academic Freedom at U. Illinois
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Dear Chancellor Wise,
We write as anthropologists to regretfully inform you that we will refuse to speak as guest lecturers or participants in public events at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign until you reverse your decision to prevent Professor Steven Salaita’s appointment to the Department of American Indian Studies at the UIUC.
We find your decision to block Professor Salaita’s appointment disturbing for a number of reasons. Like many colleagues in various academic and professional fields, we agree with legal scholars who maintain that your decision is a violation both of academic freedom and of freedom of speech, values that we as academics hold to be essential principles which academe has a special responsibility to uphold. More specifically, our boycott of the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign is based upon our belief that students and scholars must enjoy the protection of their fundamental rights to intellectual freedom. We find unacceptable any institutional interference with or repression of such freedom. We also find alarming the potential of your decision to repress dissenting voices, both at your institution and at others across the United States. Again, we believe that academic institutions bear a special responsibility to nurture and defend spaces of free debate and dialogue. Dissenting voices and opinions, even unpopular ones, are central to this mission. We hold, further, that scholars and students have a responsibility to participate in public debates and to voice their positions on matters of public interest, regardless of whether or not those matters are controversial. Specifically, we wish to state clearly our support for the protected rights of students and scholars everywhere to participate in, study, and research and disseminate their views about Israel-Palestine free from threats or intimidation. We sincerely hope that you will rethink your position on this case and that you reverse your decision. Until then, we will not officially engage with UIUC.
(Signatories may use their own discretion to boycott other engagements as well). We the undersigned list our institutional affiliations for purposes of identification only. We speak as scholars and not on behalf of the institutions that employ us.