It wasn’t just students that wanted to divest from Israel at Pitzer College in California. You see, Pitzer College has a study abroad program in Israel, but the Pitzer College Council, made up of both student and faculty senators, voted to suspend the program. But Melvin Oliver, president of the school, said that suspending the program “would be paltry support for Palestinian rights” and would “foolishly alienate [the school’s] Jewish and non-Jewish constituents,” reported Campus Reform.
At both Cornell and NYU, when the president took a stand against BDS, that was the end of it. But not at Pitzer. The student senate is considering a resolution that says “if President Oliver does not retract his anti-democratic decision by the end of the day on April 11, 2019, [the student senate will] call for his immediate resignation or removal from office.”
This just in: allowing students to study in a country whose government you hate is “anti-democratic.” The students also claim that Oliver’s refusal to cancel the study abroad program “strongly articulates the idea that the College’s faculty offers arguments without merit, therefore potentially impacting the College’s fundraising ability.”
Well, if you’re a representative of your institution, whatever it is, I hate to break it to you, but your decisions do indeed sway people’s opinions about you and their donations. Obviously. But that means the onus is on YOU to make compelling arguments, not someone else to submit to you under the threat of getting less money.
Anyways, I wonder if these anti-Israel students and faculty have heard of the Streisand Effect, in which people respond to censorship of something by becoming more not lessinterested in that something.
Trying to shut things down and get people fired over this kind of stuff only makes spectators curious if you’re trying to cover something up. If Israel really is that awful, why not just let students go there and see for themselves? That sounds like the democratic thing to do.
Cali School Banning Israel Study-Abroad?
Pitzer College faculty passed a motion demanding the “suspension of the College’s exchange with Haifa University, 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,” according to Campus Reform.
Nations, of course, are well within their rights to deny entry to anyone and I would think you’d want to be just a bit less liberal if one part of your population was firing everything from rocks to rockets at the other part. And you also might not be so eager to hand out visas to schools that teach the ideology that underlies such violence. Hey, maybe Trump should think about that when handing out visas to study at leftist, anti-American institutions.
Anyway, my main beef with Pitzer College not letting students study in Israel is that it’s a great example of the Streisand Effect in action: if you ban something, people only want to experience it more. Regardless of whether you want students to support or oppose Israel, the best way to do that is to let them experience the actual nation firsthand. PREVENTING them from doing so is going to make them think you’re HIDING something from them.
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