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To the Editor:

Michale Goldberger ’s opinion piece in Thursday’s DP on the American Studies Association vote to boycott Israeli academic institutions calls upon the University to cancel its membership in the ASA. In fact, Penn does not have an institutional membership in the ASA, nor do any schools within Penn.

Some individual faculty are members and travel to their conferences, as is their right. Department chairs may choose to fund their travel to these conferences, as they do for any academic activities, respecting faculty members’ academic freedom to take part in academic activities of their choosing. Paying for those individual activities does not imply institutional endorsement of the ASA.

As Ms. Goldberger correctly noted, the University denounced the boycott when it was announced last December. President Amy Gutmann, as vice chair of the Association of American Universities, signed a statement issued by the AAU “strongly opposing a boycott of Israeli academic institutions” as a violation of “academic freedom.” The free exchange of ideas is the lifeblood of an academic institution, and efforts to restrict that are in direct opposition to the values that we at Penn hold most dear.


Stephen J. MacCarthy

Vice President for University Communications

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