he last few days have seen controversy brewing over a planned event at Brooklyn College. The planned February 7 event, titled “BDS Movement Against Israel” and co-sponsored by several student groups as well as Brooklyn College’s political science department, is slated to feature Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti, two proponents of the push to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (hence the “BDS” shorthand).
Particularly controversial has been the political science department’s co-sponsorship of the event—which some have criticized as constituting an official endorsement of the event and the views of its speakers by Brooklyn College. Political Science Chair Paisley Currah has released a clarifying statement promising that “We welcome—indeed encourage—requests to co-sponsor speakers and events from all student groups, departments, and programs.” Currah further writes that “[e]ach and every request will be given equal consideration.” The college, meanwhile, has firmly defended the department’s academic freedom, with spokesperson Jeremy Thompson telling the New York Post that
As a university, we are committed to academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. We don’t tell student groups or academic departments what topics they can or cannot discuss. (read more)