Rutgers University has rejected the call by the American Studies Association for a boycott of Israeli institutions of higher education.
Responding to a letter from the N.J. State Association of Jewish Federations requesting such a move, Rutgers president Dr. Robert Barchi wrote, “While Rutgers affirms the right of faculty, students, and associations to express their own political and intellectual viewpoints, we believe that academic boycotts fundamentally violate the principles of academic freedom and the free exchange of knowledge and ideas.”
Rutgers, wrote Barchi, “joins peer institutions — including fellow members of the Association of American Universities (AAU) — in rejecting the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israeli institutions of higher education.”
The exchange came in reaction to the Dec. 17 vote by two-thirds of the members of the ASA to boycott Israeli academic institutions. That vote, in turn, followed the boycott announced earlier this year by the Association for Asian American Studies, and an announcement on Dec. 15 by the Native American Studies Association urging its members to boycott Israeli educational institutions.
The Modern Language Association next month will debate an academic boycott of Israel.
Representing the State Association, its president Mark S. Levenson and executive director Jacob Toporek had urged Barchi to “add your voice and the prestige of Rutgers” to “the recent determination of the American Studies Association which infringes upon academic freedom by resolving to boycott Israel.”
Thanking him for his positive response, they wrote, “Lending your voice and the prestige of Rutgers University in safeguarding the value of academic freedom sends the correct message that scholarly exchange is a benefit to all when unfettered and afforded equitable respect.”
They also asked him to consider “calling upon the Rutgers Department of American Studies and its faculty members of the ASA to withdraw ASA membership until there is a recognition by the ASA of the value priority importance of universal academic freedom.”
Several institutions of higher learning officially withdrew their memberships from the ASA, including Kenyon College, Indiana University, Brandeis University, and Penn State Harrisburg
Dozens of other universities also have condemned the ASA boycott, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Cornell, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of Maryland, and New York University.