Our union’s elected Executive Council has issued a statement on academic freedom, defending free speech on our campuses, and the crisis in Israel and Palestine. You can click here to read the statement.
We understand that many members feel strongly about this issue and may not agree with all aspects of the statement. But we want to emphasize that the EC followed our democratic, deliberative process and listened carefully to members with differing views. We convened an initial EC meeting nearly two weeks ago to discuss requests to speak as a union on this issue. A group of EC members with diverse views met to write a first draft. We held an office hours meeting to hear from members, and the initial draft was revised based on that input. Ultimately, the EC vote was clearly in favor of the final version—but we want to stress that this statement speaks for the Executive Council, not the whole union.
Some of you have asked why our union’s leadership body made any statement at all. From the start of this crisis, we received requests to find a way for our union to not only mourn the terrible loss of life in Israel and Palestine but to acknowledge the climate of fear on our campuses and show support for those who feel threatened and unsafe.
Most of the statement is directed specifically at the impact of the crisis on our students, our communities, and ourselves. We believe there is something close to unanimity in our union about the need to forthrightly defend academic freedom and the rights of our students, our colleagues, and our members to speak and be active on this issue, free from intimidation, harassment, and threats of violence.
We know that issuing this statement will lead to continued heated discussions and disagreements among at least some members. Issuing any statement, whatever the content—or, conversely, being silent—was bound to anger some members. That is the challenge of this difficult and frightening moment.
Our entire Executive Council is committed to continuing a respectful discussion, in which we listen to each other and try to find the basis for continuing to work together in solidarity, as we did during our inspiring strike and contract campaign last spring.
Todd, Becky, and Miguel
Todd Wolfson, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rebecca Givan, General Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Miguel Rodriguez, Secretary-Treasurer, Rutgers AAUP-AFT