Pitzer College Becomes First to Vote to End Study Program Abroad in Israel

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Pitzer College President Melvin L. Oliver refused Thursday to drop the study abroad program from Israel, rejecting a recommendation of the college board a few hours after his vote.

"By selecting Israelthe recommendation itself is compromised, " Mr. Oliver said in a statement. "We do not solve an injustice by committing another. If implemented, the recommendation would unnecessarily alienate a large sample of the population UniversityConstituencies. The damage to the reputation of the University would be irreparable and as president of this institution, I can not allow this to happen. "

His statement came shortly after Pitzer College Council, a faculty consisting of faculty and student senators, voted by 67 votes to 28, with eight abstentions, to suspend the program on the left University of Haifa, located atop Mount Carmel, according to the Claremont Independent.

.@pitzercollegeThe President will go against the College CouncilThe recommendation to suspend studies abroad Israel with @HaifaUniversity. ClaremontThe chapter Students for Justice in Palestine is already protesting and circulating a petition. #Israelhttps://t.co/JwEBRKYiSU

– ClaremontIndependent (@CmontInd) March 15, 2019

@RashidaTlaib is with #SuspendPitzerHaifa. @pitzercollege @caliactivist @sareemakdisi @YousefMunayyer @ jjz1600 @RepJudyChu @jvplive @theIMEU pic.twitter.com/5NUQoQk6c7

– Daniel A. Segal (@ DanSegal14) March 11, 2019

The answer was quick. Claremont Students for Justice in Palestine, who called at the end of the study abroad program, posted on Facebook a petition signed by students and professors calling for: Mr. Oliver honor shared governance.

"Students, faculty and staff must be outraged by this flagrant disregard for Pitzer's values ​​and democratic process," the petition says. "We will continue to organize to suspend Haifa and ask the President Oliver reverse his decision. "

In his statement, Mr. Oliver The recommendation would encourage Mr Pitzer to "inevitably take a political stance on one of the most controversial issues of our time".

"The College's mission is above all to educate our students", Mr. Oliver I said. "Social responsibility is a fundamental value of University and we hope that social justice will become the life mission of many of our graduates and a guiding principle for all our students and alumni. But social justice is not, and can not be in itself, the mission of the Universityor our mission would become political and non-educational. "

Max Samarov, Executive Director of Research and Strategy atIsrael standWithUs group, rented Mr. OliverThe decision to make sure that "Pitzer will not fall on the wrong side of history".

"If this motion really focused on ethical standards for study abroad, they would have started with the Pitzer programs in Lebanon and China rather than aiming for one of the most diverse universities in democracy alone. operating in the Middle East, "said Samarov. "In reality, this vote was intended to push a narrow anti-governmentIsrael a program that harms students, violates academic freedom, and fuels further conflict and injustice in the Middle East. "

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, director of the AMCHA initiative, said that Pitzer, located in Claremont, California, would have been the first American college to end its Israel study program abroad as part of a university boycott.

"What happened today in Pitzer is an academic abomination," said AMCHA in a statement at the end of the vote. "Giving priority to politics over students is wrong, but unfortunately, the Pitzer College Council just did that. Academic boycotts violate the rights of students and professors on American campuses, and this vote that sets a precedent is frightening. "

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, supported the boycott by posing with a #SuspendPitzerHaifa message in a tweet published Monday by Professor of Anthropology and History Pitzer Daniel A. Segal, head of the program's suspension campaign 'study abroad.

the advice endorsed Mr. Segal's amendment to the draft policy stating that the suspension would remain in effect until "the Israeli state ends its restrictions on entry into Israel". Israel based on ancestry and / or political discourse ", and" the Israeli State adopts a policy granting visas for exchanges to Palestinian universities on an equal footing with Israeli universities ".

The American Jewish Committee criticized the professor-student recommendation as "a scandalous attack on academic freedom."

"The decision threatens to set a dangerous precedent: it is acceptable that outside political influences limit students' experiences," AJJ said in a statement. "A leading university has the responsibility to provide as many teaching and research opportunities as possible without politicizing universities. We urge the president Oliver to reverse this misguided action by the College Council. "

The decision to suspend University of Haifa program came after the UniversityLast year, the Board of Directors of the Board of Directors voted to cancel the resolution of the student government to adopt theIsrael Boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign.

Pitzer belongs to the five colleges Claremont consortium, the others being Pomona, Claremont McKenna, Scripps and Harvey Mudd.

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