The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel picked up additional momentum this weekend when the University of California Student Association approved a resolution calling on the UC regents to divest from corporations complicit in violations of Palestinians’ human rights. But the system-wide student government went even further than that, endorsing a second resolution urging the university to divest from national governments it describes as being “engaged in human rights abuses and violence,” including not only the government of Israel, but also those of Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, Sri Lanka -- and the United States.
The resolution cites a range of abuses on the part of the U.S. government: drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, high rates of incarceration, disproportionate targeting of racial minorities by police forces, the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants, and its activities in “directly supporting and propping up numerous dictatorships around the world with weapons sales and foreign aid.”
BDS activists celebrated the Student Association's stance: the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter at the University of California at Los Angeles issued a statement describing the vote in favor of the first, Palestinian-specific resolution as “undoubtedly the largest victory thus far in the campus divestment movement in the United States.” The group noted that student governments at six individual UC campuses, as well as the union representing UC teaching assistants and other graduate student workers, have already endorsed divestment.
Advocates of the BDS movement are often criticized for singling out Israel -- of all the objectionable regimes in the world -- for special criticism. Indeed, the conservative Cornell University law professor William A. Jacobson described the combination of resolutions at UC as illustrative of the problems with the approach. “The U. Cal. student government has proven a point I’ve made repeatedly in terms of the academic boycott: If you are going to boycott Israel, then you need to apply those standards to the whole world, which will result in boycotting yourselves,” he wrote in his Legal Insurrection blog.
Just because the system-wide UC Student Association passed the resolutions -- the full texts of which are linked in the meeting minutes -- doesn’t mean the Board of Regents will necessarily take them up. In 2010, the University of California released a statement affirming the board's policy of divesting from a foreign government, or with companies doing business with that government, only in cases in which the U.S. government has declared a regime guilty of committing acts of genocide (which it has not done in the case of Israel). In forwarding that statement, a UC spokeswoman said Monday that the university’s position and policies have not changed.
Several hundred protesters delayed by more than an hour the start of a speech Thursday of Marine Le Pen at the University of Oxford, The Guardian reported. Le Pen is leader of the National Front in France and regularly criticizes Muslims in her country. Authorities were forced for a time to close the doors to the Oxford Union. When she did speak, Le Pen did not shy away from the stances that led the protesters to call her a bigot (and worse).
Minnesota’s Office of Higher Education is recommending that a new law requiring the state’s institutions to report illnesses and deaths on study abroad programs be expanded to include disclosure of instances of sexual assault and other crimes, the Star Tribunereported. The office said this will result in better information for students and parents. Sexual assault reporting had been excluded from the original law -- the first of its kind in the country -- due to concerns about safeguarding victims’ privacy.
A new campaign seeks to get 1,000 K-12 teachers to take a pledge to encourage their students to study abroad. The effort is part of the Institute of International Education’s broader Generation Study Abroad initiative, which aims to double study abroad participation numbers.
“To achieve our goal of doubling study abroad by the end of the decade, it is essential to work with teachers and support them in building a pipeline of students who are prepared to take advantage of international opportunities,” IIE’s president and CEO, Allan E. Goodman, said in a press release.
Israeli authorities are investigating the practice of a former professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz of listing his academic affiliation in his journal articles as Ariel University, an institution he has never visited, Haaretzreported. The professor listed Ariel as an affiliation on seven articles in 2014 and two this year. Ariel is a controversial Israeli university, located on the West Bank and criticized by many (including Israeli academics), who question the appropriateness of building an Israeli university there. The question of journal articles and their ties to a university is important because the government in Israel evaluates its universities, in part, on the research output of its faculty members. Ariel said that the professor collaborates with one who is on campus.
In 2011, Sciencereported that some Saudi universities were boosting their apparent research output by creating extremely loose affiliations with scholars in other countries who were being hired on the condition that their journal articles list their affiliation with Saudi universities before others.
Chinese authorities are vowing to eliminate textbooks with "Western values" from universities, AFP reported. "Never let textbooks promoting Western values appear in our classes," Education Minister Yuan Guiren told the official Xinhua news agency. He added that "remarks that slander the leadership of the Communist Party of China" and "smear socialism" must never be permitted in classrooms.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Monday charged that three Russians had been part of a spy ring in New York City for their country -- and that they sought recruits at a university in New York. An announcement from the FBI said that the Russians attempted "to recruit United States residents, including several individuals employed by major companies, and several young women with ties to a major university located in New York, New York (“University-1”), as intelligence sources." The announcement also said that the Russians discussed efforts of other agents "to recruit a number of other Russian-origin individuals associated with University-1 as intelligence sources."