The student senate at the University of Michigan at Flint unanimously voted to “divest from all companies that participate in the unethical violation of Palestinian human rights,” reported The Algemeiner. The resolution passed fairly easily, probably due to the fact that Flint has no Jewish or pro-Israel student organizations.
The Flint student government is excited that student governments at UM Ann Arbor and Dearborn have passed similar initiatives, but doesn’t seem to realize that none of these resolutions actually matter if the school administration simply chooses not to recognize them.
For instance, students at the Ann Arbor campus finally succeeded in passing a divestment resolution last year, after at least ten previous failures. “We appreciate hearing from students,” said the administration, but went on to note that “the university’s longstanding policy is to shield the endowment from political pressures and to base our investment decisions solely on financial factors such as risk and return.” UM’s board of regents was a little more blatant, saying outright it “strongly oppose[d]” the BDS movement.
When it comes to the University of Michigan and money, divestment initiatives aren’t the only strange happenings. Last week, around 1,700 Michigan professors demanded a pay raise that would almost double their starting salaries, threatening to go on strike next week, according to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Lecturers at the three campuses currently make around $30,000 starting salaries and the union is asking for a $60,000 base at Ann Arbor. If the union strikes on April 9th and 10th, about a third of the classes at Ann Arbor and half of the courses at Flint and Dearborn would be left, well, presumably teacherless. The strike also reportedly violates the union’s contract.
Well, Fitzgerald, it seems like you have three options. Let the students fail, fire the professors, or, hey, maybe you could divert some of the money from that $10 million multicultural center you’re building on campus or initiatives like these anti-Islamophobia self-defense workshops. Just food for thought.
UMich Punishes Anti-Israel Prof
UMich American Studies professor John Cheney-Lippold has stood by his decision to go BACK on his decision to write a recommendation for student Abigail Ingber to study in Israel. He’d told Abigail “as you may know, many university departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine.”
But it is actually against UMich policy for departments to divest from or boycott Israel. Cheney-Lippold now says he slipped up because he was doing departmental business around the same time he wrote that email and that he meant to say that “many university professors,” not departments, are boycotting Israel, reported Jewish News Syndicate.
He also said that the Palestinian infant mortality is three times higher than that of Israelis, linking it to apartheid, which makes me curious: does that mean America is also an apartheid state? That black infant mortality rate is nearly three times higher than the Asian one. And here’s another factor: if Cheney-Lippold had just written the recommendation and let Abigail study in Israel, maybe she would come back as a BDS advocate, maybe she’d a return a newly-minted social justice warrior.
Anyway, the University of Michigan has now decided that John will not receive a merit raise for this school year and will not be able to take his planned sabbatical in January or embark on one for two years, according to The Detroit News.
UMich interim dean Elizabeth Cole said “Your conduct has fallen far short of the University’s and College’s expectations for how LSA faculty interact with and treat students….This letter is a strong warning that your behavior in this circumstance was inappropriate and will not be tolerated.”
A second UMich teacher, this time TA Lucy Peterson, also went back on her decision to recommend a student to study at Tel Aviv University, reported The Washington Post. She said “I’m so sorry that I didn’t ask before agreeing to write your recommendation letter, but I regrettably will not be able to write on your behalf….Along with numerous other academics in the US and elsewhere, I have pledged myself to a boycott of Israeli institutions as a way of showing solidarity with Palestine.”
UMich told Campus Reform that since both Peterson and the individual to whom she denied a recommendation were students, “the university is precluded by federal law from discussing” the incident.
Prof Won’t Write Israel Study-Abroad Rec.
University of Michigan professor John Cheney-Lippold recently agreed to write a recommendation letter for one of his students, Abigail Ingber, but then changed his mind after learning that Abigail was going to be studying in Israel, reported Campus Reform. He said “as you may know, many university departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine. This boycott includes writing letters of recommendation for students planning to study there.”
And the professor apparently sent this email a couple of weeks after agreeing to write a recommendation. But it gets worse for Abigail:
“I should have let you know earlier, and for that I apologize. But for reasons of these politics, I must rescind my offer to write your letter.” For reasons of these politics…I thought academia was supposed to be one of the only institutions that was divorced from politics, teaching people how to think, not what to think. And apparently Cheney-Lippold wasn’t even acting in line with the rest of his school.
Rick Fitzgerald, a University of Michigan assistant vice president, said that the school “has consistently opposed any boycott of Israeli institutions of higher education,” and that “no academic department or any other unit at the University of Michigan has taken a position that departs from this long-held university position.”
He went on to call the decision to let politics influence the amount of help a professor gives students “disappointing”. And what about poor Abigail? She hasn’t publicly commented yet, but she might not get to study in Israel because of this.
Meet The Activists Behind UMich’s BDS Push
According to watchdog group Canary Mission, the University of Michigan’s Students Allied for Freedom and Equality group didn’t just advocate for the school to stop doing business with companies like HP and Boeing that support Israel themselves. This group also brought in outside anti-Israel professionals.
One of the speakers was Sabry Wazwaz, who has said “this is for Palestine, Ramallah, West Bank, Gaza — it’s about time you globalize the intifada, referring to the Palestinian uprisings that cost thousands of Israeli and Palestinian lives. Wazwaz also compared Zionists to Nazis and Palestinians to Jews and attended solidarity rallies for Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh, who masterminded a bombing that murdered two college students.
Still, it’s not as though the divestment resolution actually matters. The UMich administration said “we appreciate hearing from students,” but went on to note that “the university’s longstanding policy is to shield the endowment from political pressures and to base our investment decisions solely on financial factors such as risk and return.” UM’s board of regents was even more blatant, saying it “strongly oppose[d]” the BDS movement.
And I’m pretty sure the student activists knew this position all along. You would think that, if the issue really mattered to them, they’d maybe transfer schools, but of course leftists never did have a good understanding of the free market.
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