About a dozen history professors signed a petition posted in the History Department office supporting a peaceful resolution to the Persian Gulf crisis before another group of professors complained and the petition disappeared. The petition, which was taped to a counter in the department, was also sent to the mailboxes of many History faculty and graduate students by a splinter group of the American Historical Association calling itself "Historians Against War in the Persian Gulf." According to History Professor Robert Hartwell, many professors became angry about the petition after several faculty had signed it. They argued that its presence in the office was a "tacit endorsement" of the petition's anti-war stance by the department and the University. Hartwell said he was so incensed by the petition's placement in the department office that he wrote a letter to President Bush disavowing the department and the University of the views of the petition's signers. "I found it totally unacceptable that the petition -- or for that matter any petition on either side -- should be given a tacit endorsement by the History Department by being placed in the department office," Hartwell said. Hartwell complained about the petition to other professors and it subsequently was removed from the office. Hartwell said he did not remove the petition, and several other professors said they do not know where it went. Secretaries in the office also said they do not know who removed the petition. Assistant History Professor Ruth Karras, a member of the American Historical Association, said last week she received a copy of the petition by mail but also signed the copy placed in the History Department office. Karras, who is opposed to U.S. intervention in the Middle East, said that "quite a few members of the department signed the petition." Associate History Professor Walter Licht placed the petition in the office and said last week he was "kind of in charge of it," but added he wasn't aware of the circumstances behind the petition's removal. The petition was written at a New York City convention of the American Historical Association last December before the war started and has since been mailed to AHA members around the world. A group of graduate students at Rutgers University currently handling the petition said they have collected approximately 800 signatures from people at schools including Stanford, Harvard, Yale and Columbia universities, as well as nearby schools such as Temple and Villanova universities. They added that they continue to receive signatures by mail weekly. Executive Director of the American Historical Association Samuel Gammon said although the Association itself does not take stands on political issues, the names of the petition's signers might be published in their newsletter later this spring. Gammon added that the Association "applauds all efforts to educate out fellow citizens about this area of the world." The petition, created by a group of about 100 AHA members, pushed for peaceful resolution of the Gulf crisis and an increased focus on the problems facing the U.S. domestically. "As educators, scholars and members of the American Historical Association, we are compelled to go on record in opposition to American military intervention in the Middle East," the petition reads. "A war in the Middle East will fail to resolve any of the issues at hand in the present crisis." "War will intensify all of the problems now plaguing our economy, campuses and cities," the petition continues. "While we condemn Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, we oppose any military solution and call for the use of peaceful means to resolve this international crisis."Comments powered by Disqus
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