Following is a statement by Randy Diehl, dean of The University of Texas at Austin College of Liberal Arts, on the academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions announced by several associations.
The University of Texas at Austin College of Liberal Arts strongly opposes all academic boycotts as infringements on academic freedom. These boycotts also run counter to our university’s nondiscrimination policy, which prohibits unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, citizenship, and veteran status.
The consequences of academic boycotts, however, are more than infringements of rules and standards. They strike at the very heart of our mission in the liberal arts to transform lives, to help students become broadly educated citizens committed to the freedom of inquiry, the search for truth and the advancement of knowledge. These commitments are fundamental to the health of universities and democracies alike.
It has been suggested by some that our college dissociate with organizations expressing support for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Our college participates in events sponsored by many organizations in a spirit of open and free exchange; we do not dissociate from organizations with which we disagree, nor do we discourage our faculty members from affiliating with them. However, our college will not support or participate in any event that excludes certain scholars based on their citizenship, nationality or other factors cited in our university’s nondiscrimination policy.
University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers, who is also chair of the Association of American Universities, was recently joined by other prominent AAU members in opposing the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. We join them in urging American scholars and scholars around the world who believe in academic freedom to oppose all such academic boycotts.