Faculty react to Rochon's IC View Response

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | February 19, 2009

Faculty react to Rochon’s IC View response

We are disturbed by President Tom Rochon’s response to the publication of Emily McNeill’s essay, “The Violence Must End,” in the current issue of IC View. Noting that, “in her story, Emily recounts her experiences this past summer in the West Bank,” Rochon agreed that educational institutions must “raise the level of debate around all controversial subjects,” including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, he went on to refer to the essay as a sign that, “we failed to do so in a fully balanced and unbiased manner,” and he promised “a stronger internal editorial review policy” in the future. This promise, which was followed by an apology from IC View’s editor, Maura Stephens, seems to have been prompted by complaints from some alumni. However, comments on the Web site actually show support for the essay and for its publication.

Three particular issues concern us. One is the view that McNeill’s article needs a corrective balance. Will this principle be applied to all issues, experiences and perspectives presented in the college’s publications? Will the college publish balancing perspectives when discussing racism or sustainability? Or will balancing only be applied when some donors or alumni adhere to a particular political doctrine?

Second, we wonder if Rochon consulted any faculty or researched past situations to get a feel for the culture at the college before writing his response. Even if he disagreed with the article and Stephens’ decision to publish it, he could have proposed that a different view be offered next time.  Instead, we have an apology from her, which suggests a form of public disciplining and which also displaces attention from the central issue: censoring any critique of Israeli policies.

Lastly, the underlying message of Rochon’s promise of a more explicit editorial regime in the future seems to be that the economic health of the college depends on censorship, and that, in this case, the public perception must be that the institution does not challenge official Israeli positions. We are concerned about the chilling effect these actions will have on free expression and inquiry on campus. Moreover, censorship could also discourage applicants and donors who do not view this kind of reaction as allowing for constructive intellectual and political discourse and debate.

We call on Rochon to explain how his response will establish an environment that is respectful of alumni who have different perspectives and to explain how he plans to ensure free expression in relation to unpopular causes on campus.

Signed by:

Asma Barlas Professor of Politics and Director, Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity

Beth Harris Associate Professor, Department of Politics

Barbara Adams Associate Professor, Department of Writing

Mara Alper Associate Professor, Department of Television-Radio

Stewart Auyash Associate Professor, Department of Health

Promotion and Physical Education

Mary Bentley Associate Professor, Department of Health

Promotion and Physical Education

Jeff Cohen Park Center for Independent Media Director and Associate Professor, Department of Journalism

Willard Daetsch Professor Emeritus, School of Humanities

and Sciences

Kelly Dietz Assistant Professor, Department of Politics

Zillah Eisenstein Professor, Department of Politics

Chip Gagnon Associate Professor, Department of Politics

Carla Golden Professor, Department of Psychology

Jonathan Gil Harris Professor, Department of English, George Washington University (formerly of IC English Department)

Sandra L. Herndon Professor Emerita, School of Communications

Naeem Inayatullah Associate Professor, Department of Politics

Paula Ioanide Assistant Professor, Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity

Margaret Jamieson Assistant Professor, Department of Cinema, Photography and Media Arts

Luke Keller Assistant Professor, Department of Physics

Tom Kerr Associate Professor, Department of Writing

Elaine Leeder Professor of Sociology and Dean of Social Sciences, Sonoma State University (formerly of IC Sociology Department)

Kati Lustyik Assistant Professor, Department of Television and Radio

Linda McBride Retired Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Paul McBride Retired Professor, Department of History

Madhavi Menon Associate Professor, Department of English, American University (formerly of IC English Department)

Matt Mogekwu Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Journalism

Stephen Mosher Professor, Department of Sport Management and Media

Shaianne Osterreich Associate Professor, Department of Economics

Catherine Penner Director of Cornell’s Adult University (formerly Associate Professor of IC Department of Writing)

Rebecca Plante Associate Professor, Department of Sociology

Patricia Rodriguez Assistant Professor, Department of Politics

Gordon Rowland Professor, Park School of Communications

Todd Schack Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism

George Schuler Retired Professor, Department of Psychology

Tom Shevory Professor and Chair, Department of Politics

Michael Smith Assistant Professor, Department of History

Peyibomi Soyinka-Airewele Associate Professor, Politics

Garry Thomas Professor Emeritus, School of Humanities and Sciences

Fred Wilcox Associate Professor, Department of Writing

Patricia Zimmermann Professor, Department of Cinema,

Photography and Media Arts

Stephen Zunes Professor of Politics and Chair of Middle Eastern

Studies, University of San Francisco (formerly of IC Politics Department)

 

 

 


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