The purpose of this petition is to call on the Ohio State University administration to retract its statement condemning the American Studies Association (ASA)’s decision to endorse a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. For more information on the boycott, please visit the ASA website (link).
Although it claims to support academic freedom and open inquiry, Ohio State has taken a stand against these principles in its denunciation of the American Studies Association (ASA)’s decision to boycott Israeli academic institutions. In a response posted to the university website in December, a statement begins, “We join the Association of American Universities and others in strongly opposing any boycott of Israeli higher education.”
We students, alumni, faculty, staff and members of the broader Columbus community object to Ohio State’s implication that students and faculty are united in their opposition to the ASA’s decision. For in wholly neglecting any mention of Palestinian students and academics living under the daily realities of occupation, OSU has shown that it does not truly embrace an inclusive and equitable conception of academic freedom—only one that is politically convenient. This double standard is the exact antithesis of the ideals undergirding OSU’s status as a public land grant institution.
The ASA is only one of a growing number of institutions that have aligned themselves with the campaign for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), a global citizens’ movement initiated in 2005 by Palestinian civil society. The ASA is joined in its act of solidarity by other institutions such as the Association for Asian-American Studies, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, and the Association for Humanist Sociology.
These organizations recognize that rather than inhibiting the free flow of ideas, boycotts effectively broaden the scope of academic dialogue and exchange by asserting that Palestinians, too, are endowed with the same fundamental rights to freedom, equality, and self-determination as everyone else—that they have the right to engage in the same dialogue about their academic freedoms as their Israeli counterparts. The boycott is a stand for justice, a stand for Palestinian academics and students who all too frequently find their schools arbitrarily closed and their ability to travel to classes, meetings, and conferences severely curtailed.
In denouncing the ASA vote, Ohio State has taken a stand against human rights and human dignity. Only through bold actions such as those undertaken by the ASA and others can Israel and the international community be shaken from their complacency—so that justice and equality for all people can be achieved.
We the undersigned call on the Ohio State University to retract its condemnation of the ASA. As an institution that has historically prided itself on a commitment to social justice and equal opportunity, Ohio State should send the message that the right to engage in free and open inquiry extends to all individuals.
The Campaign for BDS at Ohio State