Academic departments at the University of Massachusetts sparked outcry last April for sponsoring an anti-Semitic event, and now they're at it again with a similar affair.
This time the UMass Resistance Studies Initiative is co-sponsoring an anti-Zionist event aimed at promoting the BDS campaign advocating boycotts against Israel. So a group of 84 pro-Israel groups has sent a letter of complaint.
"This is sort of a do-over of what we saw last spring with several departments," notes Tammi Rossman-Benjamin of the AMCHA Initiative. "In the end in turned out to be eight departments sponsoring this awful political rally."
After the last event, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy formed a faculty senate committee for developing guidelines regarding departmental sponsorship of events. But Rossman-Benjamin says that was not enough.
"Unless the faculty senate can address the specific question of faculty abuse of academic freedom, this is going to continue," she asserts.
She says the problem is there are faculty in several departments – particularly the Department of Communication, the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and the Resistance Studies Initiative -- who feel entitled to use their academic positions to promote their own personal political agendas, which undermines the academic mission of UMass.