M. BRIAN BLAKE
We are a group of alumni, parents of students, and donors represented by Alums for Campus Fairness who are hoping to build a bridge of mutual understanding and a shared vision of student success now and in the future. In particular, we are extremely concerned about the appointment of Dr. Ilana Feldman to interim dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA) at The George Washington University (GW). Across the country, antisemitism has manifested itself on college campuses, often propagated by faculty members. Given Dr. Feldman’s track record, we do not have confidence in her ability to provide effective leadership free of bigotry-rooted bias.
We know Dr. Feldman is a ardent supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which not only contributes to an environment of antisemitism, but actively promotes antisemitism through the demonization and delegitimization of Israel, the nation state of the Jewish people. As GW has affirmed in the past, BDS has no place on campus, as “academic exchanges and conversations lead to better understanding between nations and people of differing views.” Her record of dismissing terrorism, advocating for academic boycotts, and delegitimizing the State of Israel confound the risk of personal and political bias negatively affecting her ability to provide effective leadership.
We understand that GW has undergone the process of searching for a permanent dean and hope that this new hire will play an important role in maintaining a marketplace of ideas on campus. While we might not agree with all faculty decisions, we fully expect GW to remain committed to the intellectual growth of all students. Part of ensuring such intellectual growth relies on hiring faculty who have a demonstrated commitment to academic freedom, and who respectfully present and encourage diverse viewpoints in the classroom.
Furthermore, we support the GW students who have expressed their dismay at Dr. Feldman’s appointment and we echo the need to “reconsider this decision” and select a candidate that better represents the interests and passions of all students, including Jewish students and their allies.
We, GW alumni, parents of students, and donors, as represented by Alums for Campus Fairness, would like to thank you for your commitment to supporting academic freedom and intellectual growth at our alma mater, and hope that you will view us as a partner in your efforts moving forward.
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