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Academic Freedom Encompasses the Right to Boycott: Why the AAUP Should Support the Palestinian Call for the Academic Boycott of Israel

In its 2006 report elaborating on its reasons for rejecting academic boycotts, specifically the boycott of Israeli academic institutions, the AAUP wrote, “In view of the Association’s longstanding commitment to the free exchange of ideas, we oppose academic boycotts.” It is not at all clear, however, that opposing the boycott of academic institutions that play central roles in the violation of human rights furthers the free exchange of ideas. I argue here that the AAUP should reassess its blanket opposition to academic boycotts, and that its position should be informed by its own conceptualization of academic freedom and human rights.

Ward Churchill at the Dalton Trumbo Fountain: Academic Freedom in the Aftermath of 9/11

How many of the three hundred people who gathered around the Dalton Trumbo Fountain in front of the University of Colorado’s student center on March 3, 2005, to hear Ward Churchill speak understood the irony of the location? Trumbo, a successful screenwriter and Colorado alumnus, had been one of the so-called “Hollywood Ten” who were imprisoned and blacklisted for defying the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947. Churchill, like Trumbo an outspoken radical, had just become the target of a nationwide campaign to eject him from his position as a tenured professor of American Indian studies on the Colorado faculty. In a hasty essay, written to explain why the perpetrators of the attack on the World Trade Center would have been so hostile to the United States, he had characterized the 9/11 victims as “little Eichmanns.” That unfortunate phrase, unremarked at the time, emerged with a vengeance three years later in conjunction with a planned speech he was to give at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Catapulted into notoriety by right-wing bloggers and talk-show hosts, Churchill then came under attack by Colorado politicians, who forced the university to investigate and then dismiss its controversial faculty member.

The Corporatization of American Higher Education: Merit Pay Trumps Academic Freedom OR More Discretionary Power for Administrators over Faculty: You’re Kidding Me, Right?

I decided to include the irreverent alternative title to this essay because, when I was first presented by our faculty union with the proposal for increased reliance on merit pay for pay raises, my initial response remains my most persistent thought on the subject: “You’re kidding me, right?” I have discovered that neither my administration nor my union leaders were kidding, yet the joke remains on me and the rest of my colleagues who are now subjected to the wonders of the grand idea and the realities of the perverse execution of the concept of merit pay in the university.


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