The Pitzer College Council—a governing body of faculty and student senators which usually decides college policy—voted Thursday to suspend Pitzer’s only study abroad program in Israel with the University of Haifa, one of the most diverse universities in the Middle East. The motion to suspend the study abroad program was originally passed by faculty last semester in lieu with support of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement. The motion to suspend the study abroad program was passed with 67 voting yes, 28 voting no, and eight abstaining. The motion would require the approval of Pitzer President Melvin L. Oliver.
However, in a statement Thursday night, Oliver stated his opposition to the motion.
"While my decision not to implement the recommendation is being communicated immediately, it is a decision that I have reached in a careful and deliberate manner. It is informed by multiple conversations over the past several months with our elected representatives on the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC), individual faculty, trustees, students, parents and a range of other constituents," Oliver said.
Oliver stated several reasons for his opposition to the council's recommendation, one of them being "academic freedom."
"The recommendation curtails the academic freedom of those students who wish to study at the University of Haifa. Among Pitzer’s core values is the promotion of intercultural understanding, much of that achieved through our vibrant study abroad program that enables our students to reach their own conclusions about some of the world’s most vexing challenges through on-the-ground, face-to-face, people-to-people experience. The recommendation runs directly counter to Pitzer’s core value of intercultural understanding," Oliver said.
Before the official vote on the motion, Professor of Anthropology and History Daniel Segal—who led the faculty vote to ban Pitzer’s study abroad program in Israel, introduced a “friendly amendment” to the motion. The original motion stated that, “Pitzer would suspend the study abroad program in Haifa until (a) the Israeli state ends its restrictions on entry to Israel based on ancestry and/or political speech and (b) the Israeli state adopts policies granting visas for exchanges to Palestinian universities on a fully equal basis as it does to Israeli universities.” The amendment changes this moti
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