The University of Michigan has faced an eruption of protests in recent days after reprimanding a professor, who refused to write a recommendation letter for a student wanting to study in Israel. The professor had cited the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement for the refusal.
Graduate students marched and delivered JVP's petition to @UMich this week. 8,000+ of you signed on to support academic freedom for Professor John Cheney-Lippold and Graduate Student Lucy Peterson who declined to write letters of recommendation for students to study in Israel pic.twitter.com/sSf2Hpb7Qv
— JewishVoiceForPeace (@jvplive) October 25, 2018
John Cheney-Lippold, an associate professor of American culture, had been reprimanded by the university for refusing to write the letter of recommendation earlier this month. Since then, he has received support and messages of solidarity from students of the university, according to Middle East Eye.
Students hand-delivered a letter to the office of Mark Schlissel, the president of the university, condemning the institution for its action against the professor. Cheney-Lippold had his annual merit-based pay raise frozen for one year and sabbatical suspended for two years as a result of his decision not to write the recommendation letter.
The disciplining of John Cheney-Lippold for his support of #BDS is an attack on his constitutional freedoms. @UMich we urge you to stand for the academic freedoms of scholars and students in Palestine, and at your own institution. #GoBlue pic.twitter.com/zjchs6pwLF
— PACBI (@PACBI) October 20, 2018
The university’s Faculty Senate (SACUA) said in a statement Monday:
“To the extent that any member of our academic community feels coerced into providing a recommendation letter, or stating opinions that he or she does not believe, the integrity of the recommendation is tarnished and the academic freedom that is central to our University is impugned”.
Various organizations across the U.S. expressed their solidarity with Cheney-Lippold.
John Cheney-Lippold https://t.co/zHusEIqRQy
— Michael (@Michael50993603) October 18, 2018
Earlier this month, a U.S. student, Lara Alqasem was detained in the Israeli airport by the country’s authorities for being an alleged supporter of BDS. She was not allowed in the country for almost two weeks before the Supreme Court of Israel ruled in her favor.
On Monday, more than 30 New York University (NYU) Student Group members wrote a letter pledging to not participate in or apply to study abroad programs hosted at NYU’s Tel Aviv campus.
(TeleSur, PC, Social Media)