President Lawrence opposes American Studies Association's boycott of Israel

Friday, January 10, 2014

President Karen Lawrence has issued a statement opposing the American Studies Association's boycott of Israeli universities. Her statement is as follows:

"In December, the American Studies Association (ASA) membership voted to adopt a resolution supporting an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions on the grounds that they are a party to Israeli state policies that violate human rights, particularly the rights of Palestinian scholars and students. In response, organizations, such as the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the American Council of Education (ACE) and the Association of American Universities (the AAU) have spoken out against the ASA's call for a boycott.

As president of Sarah Lawrence College, I oppose this boycott. Academic boycotts have the effect of stifling dialogue vital to academic freedom; indeed, Israeli academics themselves are crucial voices in debating the policies of their government. To declare their institutions barred from academic exchange unfairly curtails their academic freedom and limits the possibilities for dialogue to contribute to understanding, affect policy, and even change minds. It is not only counterproductive, but also flies in the face of what we teach our students about the intertwined values of passionate commitment and intellectual debate."

The Times of Israel reported on President Lawrence's opposition in a January 8 article. In related news, Dean of the College Jerrilynn Dodds represented SLC in a delegation of provosts from leading U.S. universities to explore academic partnerships and collaboration opportunities with Israeli universities. The Jerusalem Post reported on the visit in a January 6 article.