In a statement released by the University of Washington’s president, Michael K. Young, and its provost, Ana Mari Cauce, the UW has joined with more than 180 universities across the U.S. in opposing any proposed boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The announcement comes on the heels of a boycott voted upon by the American Studies Association in December, and discussion of a boycott at the conference of the Modern Language Association earlier this month.
Young and Cauce stated they support the statement by the Association of American Universities, which reads:
Any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which is a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in general. Academic freedom is the freedom of university faculty responsibly to produce and disseminate knowledge through research, teaching, and service, without undue constraint. It is a principle that should not be abridged by political considerations. American colleges and universities, as well as like institutions elsewhere, must stand as the first line of defense against attacks on academic freedom.
“We believe such a boycott of academic institutions and their faculties has no place in higher education institutions founded on the premise of the free exchange of ideas,” they said in their statement. “We are proud to align with the position enunciated by the AAU to oppose in any way any constriction of the free flow and exchange of ideas among the world’s scholars, teachers, scientists and intellectuals.”
Rabbi Oren Hayon, executive director of Hillel at the University of Washington, who worked with the UW on endorsing its opposition to such boycotts, told supporters in an email that “The release of this statement brings great pride to all of us who have worked steadily against the calls for anti-Israel boycotts, divestiture and sanctions here at UW and throughout the larger community,” he wrote. “The constriction of academic or intellectual expression on campus will never bring about the coexistence, peace and mutual understanding that all of us work and hope for each day.”