Resolution in Support of Academic Freedom for Graduate Student Instructors

AGSE/UAW L.2865

Resolution in Support of Academic Freedom for Graduate Student Instructors

Whereas: On May 9, 2002 the Wall Street Journal published an editorial by Roger Kimball, editor of the conservative publication the New Criterion, that denounced the content of a class to be offered in the Fall Semester of the academic year 2002-2003, called "The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance"; and

Whereas: Mr. Kimball's central argument was that the class, "The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance" is, in his words, "not an academic or scholarly inquiry"; and

Whereas: Chancellor Robert Berdhal has followed Mr. Kimball in his criticism of the class, before making inquiry into the class content or consulting with the instructor for that class, Snehal Shingavi; and

Whereas: Mr. Shingavi, a graduate student of the English Department, and a member of AGSE/UAW Local 2865 has received hate mail for offering a class on the literature of the Palestinian people; and

Whereas: The Department of English, UC Berkeley, has received hate mail and phone calls as well; and pressure from the UC administration for what the UC administration calls an "oversight" in its course scheduling procedures; and

Whereas: AGSE, as a union of educators, believes that academic freedom is essential to the realization of the academic mission of the University of California, Berkeley; and

Whereas: Chancellor Berdhal's expressed position against Mr. Shingavi's class reflects a bias against Mr. Shingavi and the content of Mr. Shingavi's proposed class; and

Whereas: Mr. Shingavi's course description has been removed from the website of the English Department and from the listings outside the English Department office; and

Whereas: Chancellor Berdhal and the UC administration have directed the English Department to "monitor" Mr. Shingavi's class; and

Whereas: Such actions, as taken by Chancellor Berdhal and the UC administration, reflect a broader bias against Mr. Shingavi's political activities outside the classroom; and an unfair targeting of him as a pro-Palestinian activist; and

Whereas: The actions of Chancellor Berdhal and the UC administration pose a serious threat to academic freedom, and the rights of graduate student instructors to decide the content of their courses and academic pursuits; and

Whereas: Such actions set a negative precedent, that undermines UC Berkeley's role as a leading academic institution, dedicated to fostering an environment of free exchange and free scholarly inquiry; and

Whereas: The decision to monitor the course of one graduate student instructor, based on the content of the class, or on the political activities of the instructor, will have a chilling effect on the whole community of graduate student instructors; and poses a threat to the academic freedom of all graduate students and professional educators; therefore let it be

Resolved: That the UC Berkeley bargaining unit of AGSE/UAW Local 2865 supports the academic freedom of all graduate student employees; and the rights of all graduate student employees; and be it further

Resolved: That UC Berkeley bargaining unit of AGSE/UAW local 2865 strongly condemns the actions of Chancellor Berdhal, and his unwarranted public statements against Mr. Shingavi's course; and be it further

Resolved: That UC Berkeley bargaining unit of AGSE/UAW local 2865 strongly opposes any decision to "monitor" Mr. Shingavi during course instruction; a decision that will have been made due to unwarranted pressure from Chancellor Berdhal and the UC administration; and be it further

Resolved: That UC Berkeley bargaining unit of AGSE/UAW local 2865 strongly opposes the targeting of graduate student employees, or any discriminatory or biased actions against graduate student employees, based on their political beliefs, religious beliefs, their race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, or their ability/disability; and be it further

Resolved: That UC Berkeley bargaining unit of AGSE/UAW local 2865 strongly urges the English Department, and the UC administration, to permit Mr. Shingavi to teach the course he has offered for Fall 2002; and to permit Mr. Shingavi to continue with his academic pursuit and his teaching duties free of harassment or unwarranted pressure; and be it finally

Resolved: That UC Berkeley bargaining unit of AGSE/UAW local 2865 send this Resolution to Chancellor Berdhal and the UC Berkeley administration; to the Chair of the English Department; and to the national UAW headquarters.

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