Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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LTE: NU Faculty across schools respond to President Schill: Protect academic freedom and the right to dissent

Dear President Michael Schill,

As faculty at Northwestern, we are seriously dismayed and concerned by the email you sent on Nov. 13, “Announcing new committee on antisemitism and hate.” We join our colleagues at other universities such as Harvard University, Columbia University and Brown University who are disturbed by administrative messaging that conflicts with our collective commitment to intellectual freedom and rigorous, open debate and contributes to a campus climate that erodes these freedoms.

Your letter rightfully condemns antisemitism, but presents an unbalanced approach to the issues we collectively face. If the approach outlined in the letter were to be carried out, we would be unable to operate effectively as faculty at an educational institution. The current political moment demands moral and pedagogical leadership that empowers all students to historicize current events, wrestle carefully with language and learn how to enact change in relation to their conscience — practices actively policed and constrained by the stances laid out in your letter.

Your letter also inflicts the exact harm it claims to prevent through its glaring imbalance. It deprioritizes and diminishes many students’ experiences, ideas and concerns regarding what leading scholars and human rights organizations are describing as genocidal violence in Gaza. The letter makes unjustified assumptions about which students, staff and faculty are the targets of hate. And, it implies that criticism of the government of Israel is antisemitic.

As our colleagues at Harvard state, and as is also reflected in a recent open letter from Jewish writers, artists and activists in N+1 Magazine, it “cannot be ruled as ipso facto antisemitic” to question the actions of the Israeli government. Similarly, the phrase “from the river to the sea, Palestine must be free,” as our colleagues at Harvard write, “has a long and complicated history. Its interpretation deserves, and is receiving, sustained and ongoing inquiry and debate.”

Your words risk further emboldening people within and outside the Northwestern community to police and threaten students, staff and faculty. Your evocation of surveillance and law enforcement puts our students, staff and faculty of color at particular risk.

Repression has no home in a place of learning. It produces a chilling effect on teaching and research across the University, on issues that both relate to the current emergency at hand and touch on many of the domains we study –– from science and engineering to journalistic practice to Indigenous, Black and Ethnic studies.

We join our colleagues at Harvard and elsewhere in their demands for student, staff and faculty protection and intellectual freedom. Our demands include that you:

Resist pressure to suspend or decertify Palestinian, Jewish, human rights and other student groups on campus in retaliation for their public statements and advocacy.

Explicitly affirm the University’s commitment to the freedom of thought, inquiry and expression in light of the extraordinary pressure being brought to bear upon critics of the State of Israel and advocates of the Palestinian people, and indicating that there can be no tolerance for a “Palestine exception” to free speech.

Create an advisory group on Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab racism.

As outlined by several leading legal and civic organizations like the Center for Constitutional Rights, we call for courageous leadership that supports all members of the Northwestern community in critically analyzing the world, wrestling with complex and pressing problems and safeguarding the right to dissent. Otherwise, we are failing to fulfill our mission as an educational institution.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Religious Studies, Political Science, & MENA Studies, WCAS
Wendy Pearlman, Political Science and MENA Studies, WCAS
Jessica Winegar, Anthropology and MENA Studies, WCAS
Rebecca C. Johnson, English, MENA Studies, and Comparative Literary Studies, WCAS
Hannah Feldman, Art History, MENA Studies,and Comparative Literary Studies, WCAS
Shirin Vossoughi, Learning Sciences, School of Education and Social Policy
Michael Rakowitz, Art Theory & Practice and MENA Studies, WCAS
Emrah Yildiz, Anthropology and MENA Studies, WCAS
Sheila Bedi, Clinical Law Professor, Pritzker School of Law
Justin L. Mann, English and Black Studies, WCAS
Lauren M. Jackson, English & Black Studies, WCAS
Ricky Hill, Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing, Feinberg School of Medicine
Steven W. Thrasher, PhD, CPT, Medill School of Journalism, ISGMH
Arionne Nettles, Journalism, Medill School of Journalism
Juan Martinez, English, WCAS
Gregory Phillips II, Feinberg School of Medicine
Beatriz O. Reyes, Global Health Studies Program and CNAIR, WCAS
Josh Honn, University Libraries
Ian Hurd, Political Science, WCAS
Kara Crutcher, Bluhm Legal Clinic, Pritzker School of Law
Nitasha Sharma, Asian American Studies, WCAS
Shalini Shankar, Anthropology & Asian American Studies, WCAS
Sarah Schulman, Ralla Klepak Professor of English, WCAS
Sami Hermez, Liberal Arts Program, Northwestern University in Qatar
Leslie M. Harris, History Department, WCAS
Shayna Silverstein, Performance Studies and MENA Studies
Mark Hauser, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, WCAS
Corey Byrnes, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, Kaplan Institute for the
Humanities, Comparative Literary Studies, WCAS
Douglas Foster, Professor, Medill School of Journalism
alithia zamantakis, ISGMH, Feinberg School of Medicine
Reema Habiby, Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Jorge Coronado, Spanish and Portuguese/Latin American and Caribbean Studies, WCAS
Alessia Ricciardi, Comparative Literary Studies, WCAS
Becca Greenstein, University Libraries
Helen Tilley, History, WCAS
Hasheem Hakeem, French, WCAS
Pedro Serrano, Feinberg School of Medicine
Elizabeth Smith, Anthropology, WCAS
Kasey Evans, English, WCAS
Tahera Ahmad, Associate Chaplain/Director of Interfaith Engagement
Brian Bouldrey, Dept of English, WCAS
Miriam J. Petty, Radio/Television/Film, School of Communication
Mérida M. Rúa, Latina, Latino, Latinx Studies, WCAS
Marquis Bey, Black Studies and Gender & Sexuality Studies, WCAS
Luis A. Nunes Amaral, Chemical & Biological Eng, McCormick School of Engineering
Kelly Wisecup, English, WCAS
Santiago J. Molina, Department of Sociology, WCAS
Lakshmi Padmanabhan, Radio, TV, Film, School of Communication
Patty Loew, Professor Emerita, Medill School of Journalism
Kennetta Hammond Perry, Black Studies, WCAS
Barnor Hesse, Department of Black Studies, WCAS
Rebecca Zorach, Art History, WCAS
Anna Parkinson, German Department, WCAS
Caitlin Fitz, History, WCAS
Martha Biondi, Black Studies, WCAS
Thadeus Dowad, Art History Dept, WCAS
Jeong Eun Annabel We, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, Comparative Literary Studies, Critical Theory, Environmental Sciences, WCAS
Brannon Ingram, Religious Studies, WCAS
Kalyan Nadiminti, English, WCAS
Domietta Torlasco, French and Italian, Comparative Literary Studies, WCAS
Lauren Stokes, History, WCAS
Sean Hanretta, Department of History, WCAS
Emily Maguire, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, WCAS
Sherwin K. Bryant, Department of Black Studies, WCAS
Michelle N. Huang, English & Asian American Studies, WCAS
Rebecca Ewert, Sociology, WCAS
Helen Thompson, English, WCAS
Mary Ann Weston, Professor Emerita, Medill School of Journalism
Miguel Caballero, Spanish and Portuguese, WCAS
Sepehr Vakil, School of Education and Social Policy
Nichole Pinkard, School of Education and Social Policy
Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz, Sociology (Ad-hoc Faculty), WCAS
Joshua Chambers-Letson, Performance Studies and Asian American Studies
Paula K. Hooper, Masters of Science in Education & Learning Sciences, School of Education and Social Policy
Bimbola Akinbola, Performance Studies, School of Communication
Tracy L Vaughn-Manley, Black Studies, WCAS
Marcelo Worsley, School of Education and Social Policy, and McCormick School of Engineering
Adrienn Kacsor, Art History, WCAS
Helen Cho, Asian American Studies, WCAS
Fadia Antabli, MENA Languages Program, WCAS
katrina quisumbing king, Sociology, WCAS
Megan Bang, SESP
Ty Blakeney, French and Italian, WCAS
Dotun Ayobade, Performance Studies and Black Studies
Tabitha Bonilla, HDSP, School of Education & Social Policy
Robert Launay, Anthropology/WCAS
kihana miraya ross, Black Studies
Krista Thompson, Dept of Art History, WCAS
Rajeev Kinra, Department of History, Program in Comparative Literary Studies, International Studies, and MENA
Onnie Rogers, Psychology
Laura Brueck, Professor, Asian Languages and Cultures and Comparative Literature, WCAS
Oya Topcuoglu, MENA Languages,WCAS
Annie Wilkinson, Department of Anthropology, WCAS
Lina Britto, History and Latin American and Caribbean Studies, WCAS
Melissa Blanco Borelli, Theatre, School of Communication
Chris Abani, Board of Trustees Professor of English, Comp. Lit, African Studies
Ibrahim N. Abusharif, Journalism and Strategic Communication Program, Northwestern University in Qatar
Ana Aparicio, Anthropology and LLSP
Torsten Menge, Liberal Arts Program, Northwestern University in Qatar
Averill Curdy, English/Creative Writing, WCAS
Paul Gillingham, Department of History, WCAS
Moya Bailey, Communication Studies/School of Communication
Ray San Diego, Asian American Studies, WCAS
Frank Sweis, University Libraries
Kari Lydersen, Medill School of Journalism
Cristal Chanelle Truscott, Theatre, MFA Acting & Directing, School of Communication
Jack Doppelt, Medill School of Journalism
Tristram Wolff, English & Comp Lit Studies, WCAS
Julie Lee Merseth, Political Science, WCAS
Dakota Chisholm, Feinberg School of Medicine
Diego Arispe-Bazan, Department of Anthropology, WCAS
Zekeria Salem, Political Science WCAS
Lynn Cohn, Pritzker School of Law
Zach Wood-Doughty, Computer Science, McCormick
Patrick Noonan, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, Comparative Literary Studies, WCAS
Megan Osadzinski, Bluhm Legal Clinic, Pritzker School of Law
Daisy Hernández, Creative Writing, Department of English, WCAS
Mary McGrath, Political Science, WCAS
Devin Moran, Campus Inclusion & Community, Social Justice Education
Hailey Cox-Montijo, School of Education and Social Policy
James Bielo, Religious Studies
Gina Peterson, University Libraries
Rignesha Prajapati, Campus Inclusion & Community, Multicultural Student Affairs
Dominique Licops, French & Italian, WCAS
Jackie Stevens, Professor, Political Science, WCAS
Ariel Sowers, Political Science, WCAS
Ana Arjona, Political Science, WCAS
Ray Elliott, Student Affairs
Jennifer Cole, Chemical & Biological Engineering, McCormick School of Engineering
Loubna El Amine, Political Science, WCAS
K O, Theatre and Music Theatre Certificate, School of Communication
Sasha McKnight, Campus Inclusion & Community, Multicultural Student Affairs
Lucy Godínez, Theater, School of Communication
Kristen Perkins-LaFollette, SESP
Kevin Buckelew, Religious Studies, WCAS
R Abdulla, Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine
Feyza Burak-Adli, WCAS
AJ Christian, Communication Studies, School of Communication
Emma Loftus, Master’s in Learning & Organizational Change, SESP
Aerith Netzer, University Libraries
Reuel R. Rogers, Political Science, WCAS
Matt Abtahi, Gender and Sexuality Resource Center
Fatima Khan, MENA Languages, WCAS
Tara Fickle, Asian American Studies, WCAS
17 Anonymous faculty and staff members

If you would like to respond publicly to this letter to the editor, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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