Friday, October 12, 2018

The University of Michigan Stands Against Bigotry

It doesn’t happen very often, so it needs to be noted when it does. The University of Michigan administration has stood up to the faculty bullies who refused to write letters of recommendations for students who wanted to spend time abroad in… Israel.

The two teachers proclaimed themselves to be proponents of the BDS movement, an anti-Israeli movement that has found many followers in the academic world. Some of the imbeciles who are currently teaching in major universities are happy to get in touch with their inner anti-Semitism.

The University of Michigan this week promised “serious consequences” for instructors whose “personal views” cause them to withhold letters of recommendation, responding to mounting concern that protest against the Israeli state is harming students on the Ann Arbor, Mich., campus.

The announcement follows two separate cases this fall in which a professor and a teaching assistant reneged on their commitments to provide references for undergraduates after learning that the students were applying to study abroad in Israel. The actions have turned the university into a site of contest over the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, known as BDS.

“Withholding letters of recommendation based on personal views does not meet our university’s expectations for supporting the academic aspirations of our students,” Michigan’s president, Mark S. Schlissel, and the provost, Martin A. Philbert, wrote in a letter to the university community, published online Tuesday. “Conduct that violates this expectation and harms students will not be tolerated and will be addressed with serious consequences. Such actions interfere with our students’ opportunities, violate their academic freedom and betray our university’s educational mission.”

One is frankly shocked to see an American university stand up to professorial bullies. Examine the penalty visited on John Cheney-Lippold, the first teacher who tried punish a student for wanting to study in Israel:

But an Oct. 3 letter obtained by the Michigan Daily spells out punitive measures directed against the professor, John Cheney-Lippold, who last month agreed to support a student’s application for a study-abroad program — until he learned that she was headed to Tel Aviv University.

A dean for Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts told Cheney-Lippold, an associate professor of internet and cultural studies, that he would not qualify for a salary increase for the 2018-’19 academic year, according to the campus newspaper, and that his eligibility for sabbatical leave would be frozen for two years. Further conduct of this nature, the dean wrote, would be subject to additional discipline, “up to and including initiation of dismissal proceedings.”

“Faculty are not required to write letters for every student who requests them, and have discretion to decline for legitimate reasons such a lack of time, information about the student, and academic assessment,” the dean, Elizabeth Cole, wrote. That discretion, though, “does not extend to withholding a letter because of your personal views regarding the student’s place of study,” she added, “and then using the student’s request as a political platform to gain an audience for your own opinions, both in the media and in the classroom.”

We do not yet know what consequences a teaching assistant, Lucy Peterson, will suffer for refusing to write a recommendation for a student who wanted to study in Israel.

But, it’s good to see academic administrators standing up to the pervasive anti-Semitic bigotry that runs wild on their campuses.


Anonymous said...

Dual citizen Israeli Benny Hinn would likely have a retort.

Sam L. said...

I am amazed the U did this! Usually universities roll over in total submission.