Six students at the City University of New York were arrested on Tuesday for protesting the university’s decision to hire David Petraeus, former military leader and ex-director of the Central Intelligence Agency, according to reports from Al Jazeera America. The demonstrators are upset that the university hired Petraeus, whom they consider a war criminal, according to the report. University faculty members and administrators released statements earlier this week, calling for peaceful disagreement and supporting Petraeus’s right to teach.
The University Faculty Senate said demonstrators must respect CUNY’s policy of academic freedom for faculty members. “Professor Petraeus, and all members of CUNY's instructional staff, have the right to teach without interference,” the University Faculty Senate statement read. “Members of the university community must have the opportunity to express alternate views, but in a manner that does not violate academic freedom.”
The dean of CUNY’s Honors College also released a statement encouraging civil dialogue about complex issues. “We may disagree, but we must always do so in a spirit of mutual respect and understanding,” Ann Kirschner said in a statement. “While the college supports the articulation of all points of view on critical issues, it is essential that dialogue within the academic setting always be conducted civilly.”
Petraeus was the subject of controversy earlier in the summer, when it was reported that he would be paid $200,000 to teach at the honors college. It was later announced that Petraeus would teach the course for $1.