In the latest conflict between Palestine and Israel, Palestinian groups have been actively encouraging other countries’ universities to not accept Israeli exchange students. This is an attempt to quell the academic success of Israeli universities, and it has unfortunately been working.
The American Studies Association, of which UNC-Chapel Hill is a member, recently announced its support for a boycott of Israeli universities and their study abroad students, a movement gaining momentum in the United States, as universities across the U.S. voice their opposition to Israel’s current political climate. In a supposed attempt to curb conflict within American institutions, the boycott prevents students originating from Israeli universities to travel to American universities for educational purposes, essentially eliminating opportunities for healthy interactions and conflict resolution between students.
Chancellor Randy Woodson and the executive board of the Association of Public Land-grant Universities recently released a statement opposing the decision of many organizations such as the ASA.
“This boycott wrongly limits the ability of American and Israeli academic institutions and their faculty members to exchange ideas and collaborate on critical projects that advance humanity, develop new technologies, and improve health and well-being across the globe… the call for a boycott in this case is severely misguided and wrongheaded,” the APLU stated.
According to Woodson, who serves as chairman of the APLU, the decision to resist the boycott was unanimous.
UNC-Chapel Hill’s Chancellor, Carol Folt, and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, James Dean Jr., expressed their opposition to ASA’s resolution in a Dec. 31 statement.
“We felt it was important to make clear that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s oldest public university, also opposes the resolution and is calling for ASA member institutions to reconsider this move,” Folt and Dean said.
Bob Moog, an associate professor of public and international affairs, said neither of the association’s statements is likely to influence policy decisions.
Regardless of whether the statements influence policy, we are glad Woodson and the APLU took a stand against the boycott.
“We believe, strongly, it’s not scholarly organizations’ responsibility to get embroiled in political fights; our goal is to promote academic freedom and intellectual exchange,” Woodson said, summing up not only his own feelings but the feelings of the Technician staff.
Even if the boycott does not end up impacting universities in this state, we at the Technician are pleased that N.C. State will not be associated with the unnecessary closure of open communication between students of Israel and students of the U.S. The leaders of tomorrow who one day will hopefully alleviate the tensions between Israelis and Palestinians should not be barred from studying at American universities based solely on their nationality.