Carnegie Mellon University
January 08, 2014

News Brief: Carnegie Mellon Opposes Effort of the ASA

Contact: Ken Walters / 412-268-2900 /

PITTSBURGH—In December 2013, the members of the American Studies Association (ASA) endorsed a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Carnegie Mellon University is not a member of the ASA, provides no direct financial support to the organization and does not condone these actions.
Carnegie Mellon operates under the premise that problems and challenges are solved by bringing people of diverse talents, cultures and viewpoints together to deliberate in an atmosphere of mutual respect. In our mission statement we pledge to serve our students by teaching leadership and teamwork skills and by demonstrating a commitment to ethical behavior. Solving problems isn’t done by drawing lines in the sand. Real leadership is demonstrated through a willingness to engage in open and honest debate. Any boycott of Israeli universities violates this philosophy and is offensive to the spirit of academic freedom alive at CMU.
CMU strongly opposes the effort of the ASA, and any other organization, that aims to punish our colleagues in Israel. We heartily concur with the following statement from the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities (AAU), of which CMU is a member:
"The Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities strongly opposes a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Three U.S. scholarly organizations have now expressed support for such a boycott. Any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which is a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in general. Academic freedom is the freedom of university faculty responsibly to produce and disseminate knowledge through research, teaching, and service, without undue constraint. It is a principle that should not be abridged by political considerations. American colleges and universities, as well as like institutions elsewhere, must stand as the first line of defense against attacks on academic freedom. Efforts to address political issues, or to address restrictions on academic freedom, should not themselves infringe upon academic freedom. Restrictions imposed on the ability of scholars of any particular country to work with their fellow academics in other countries, participate in meetings and organizations, or otherwise carry out their scholarly activities violate academic freedom. The boycott of Israeli academic institutions therefore clearly violates the academic freedom not only of Israeli scholars but also of American scholars who might be pressured to comply with it. We urge American scholars and scholars around the world who believe in academic freedom to oppose this and other such academic boycotts."