Friday, March 15, 2019

Study abroad controversies for Israel

Sorting out the logistics, educational merit, safety, and politics of study abroad can present naughty challenges. In the particular case of supporting study, research, and other forms of academic engagement with Israel, the political aspects can overwhelm all other considerations.

Pitzer University's College Council (composed of faculty, students, and staff) recently voted to suspend it's study abroad program in Israel. Pitzer's President, Melvin Oliver, refused to implement the recommended action saying, "If implemented, the recommendation would unnecessarily alienate a large cross section of the college's constituencies. The reputational harm to the college would be irreparable and as president of this institution, I cannot permit that to happen."

In response to Oliver, Daniel A. Segal, a professor who advocated the action endorsed by a 67 to 28 vote by the College Council, said that Oliver's unresponsiveness "shows a failure to appreciate that Palestinians are our fellow human beings, and a contempt for the college's democratic process."

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