DENVER – Members of the American Anthropological Association voted in favor of a resolution calling on the group to boycott Israeli academic institutions by a 1,040 to 136 margin at the association’s annual business meeting on Friday evening. The resolution will be put to a vote by the full AAA membership in the spring.
Anthropologists at the business meeting also rejected an anti-boycott resolution by a 1,173 to 196 margin.
Proponents of the academic boycott see it as a way of protesting Israel’s occupation of territories obtained in the 1967 war and of standing up for the rights of Palestinians. Some anthropologists and many other academics oppose the boycott because they believe it will stigmatize Israeli scholars and damage the study of anthropology without likely having any effect on Israeli policy.
A motion calling on the AAA to divest from corporations that "profit from the violation of Palestinian human rights and the illegal occupation" also passed on Friday. But because that motion was introduced on the floor (as opposed to the two resolutions, which were submitted in advance), it will go to the association’s executive board for its consideration and will not automatically be placed on the spring ballot.
Inside Higher Ed will have more coverage of the association's vote soon.
Students and faculty members of Mills College rallied on campus Wednesday in protest of $250,000 in proposed cuts to adjunct salaries on top of $3 million in cuts to arts, language, ethic studies and public policy programs. The college is struggling to stay afloat amid declining enrollment and persistent budget deficits. Service Employees International Union, which represents adjunct faculty on the campus, says the cuts would disproportionately affect part-time faculty and put its liberal arts mission at risk. “We do not understand how, at an institution committed to social justice and equity, such disparity exists between those who serve the college’s central educational missions, and those who have made decisions about its future without faculty input, and on the backs of its most vulnerable members,” Sandra Banks, a visiting assistant professor of chemistry, said in a statement.
Sharon Washington, interim provost and dean of the faculty, said in a separate statement that it is “standard for colleges to regularly re-examine their curriculum and Mills is no exception.” Mills “is committed to sustaining itself as a leader in higher education. This means that we must evolve,” she added. “We must build on our contemporary liberal arts education with flexible programs and curriculum that will distinguish us as a college and serve our students well into the next century.”
The University of Montana on Tuesday announced plans to cut 201 full-time positions -- 52 of them faculty slots -- to deal with enrollment declines, NBC News Montana reported. Some positions may be currently vacant. Many professors say the cuts appear likely to disproportionately impact liberal arts programs, although other programs face cuts, too. Among the liberal arts departments slated for cuts: anthropology, English, geography, liberal studies, art and political science, as well as graduate programs in foreign languages.
Oxford Dictionaries, part of Oxford University Press, on Monday announced its annual Word of the Year. For 2015, it's not a word, but rather an emoji -- in this case the emoji called “Face With Tears of Joy” (at right). Why was it selected? “Emojis (the plural can be either emoji or emojis) have been around since the late 1990s, but 2015 saw their use, and use of the word ‘emoji,’ increase hugely,” said a statement from Oxford. Among the words or phrases that were also considered: “refugee,” “dark web” and “sharing economy.”
Wartburg College in Iowa has confirmed that it’s laying off three of its tenure-track faculty members. But President Darrel D. Colson objected to the idea that Wartburg is becoming less of a liberal arts institution based on personnel and curricular changes Inside Higher Ed reported on last month. “Notwithstanding our loss of some wonderful faculty, a loss I too feel, we have not abandoned our mission or eschewed the liberal arts,” he wrote. “We are duty bound to serve the students we enroll as best we can within the constraints of our resources, and we will continue to meet their needs -- both by responding to the ever-changing vocational choices they make and by ensuring the intellectual rigor inherent in liberal education.”
Meanwhile, two members of the college’s Faculty Council, a faculty representative body, have resigned in protest of how the college handled recent personnel cuts, according to resignation notices to colleagues obtained by Inside Higher Ed. “This resignation is motivated by behaviors and decisions that have affected our work and the institution as a whole,” wrote one of the former council members, Maria Paula Survilla, a professor of art. “As I watch my colleagues struggle to address the loss of faculty and the decimation of their offerings, I feel that I cannot, in good conscience, continue as a member of the council.” Survilla acknowledged the letter in an email but declined an interview.
The college also held a listening session earlier this month to discuss what’s happening there. According to notes from the meeting circulated via email by Pastor Ramona S. Bouzard, dean of the chapel, and obtained by Inside Higher Ed, the tone of the meeting was “sad, frustrated, angry, betrayed, sorrow[ful] and hurt.” Faculty in attendance also agreed there’s been a “lack of leadership” and that they’re concerned “about not having enough resources to accomplish [Wartburg’s] mission,” according to the notes.