Disciplinary Groups Speak Out on Right to Protest

November 29, 2011

The Modern Language Association and the Middle East Studies Association have both issued statements condemning the way the University of California has handled recent protests.

The MLA's Executive Council distributed an e-mail to members Monday in which it said: "Many of us have viewed with revulsion the images of campus police in riot gear pepper-spraying a nonviolent circle of protesters at the University of California, Davis, seated with arms linked, participating in a classic act of civil disobedience. We have seen other videos from the University of California, Berkeley, showing campus police brutalizing protesters. The use of force deployed by the police against protesters is deeply troubling.... Teaching and learning can flourish only where free and open discussion is guaranteed. Education depends on respect for all members of the community. The MLA therefore insists on the importance of the right to free speech, including lawful protest, as vital to colleges and universities and exhorts higher education administrators everywhere to safeguard that right."

The Middle East Studies Association sent a letter to the University of California calling for a fully independent inquiry into the police actions and for assurances that the university will "respect, and will protect, the rights of members of the university campus to engage in peaceful protest on campus."

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