U of Texas Backs Professor in Dispute on Disrupted Event

March 10, 2016

The University of Texas at Austin announced Wednesday that it found no wrongdoing by a professor in his actions in November when a lecture he organized was disrupted by pro-Palestinian students. The students interrupted the start of the lecture, which was on the Israeli military, with speeches of their own in which they criticized the Israeli military. The professor, Ami Pedahzur, then attempted to regain order and criticized the protesters, some of whom filed complaints accusing him of violating their rights and discriminating against them.

The university's announcement Wednesday said that an investigation found the accusations against Pedahzur to be unsubstantiated. The university said policy bars it from releasing full reports on charges found to be unsubstantiated. (Supporters of the students are accusing the university of a biased investigation.)

Gregory L. Fenves, president at UT Austin, issued a statement that suggested the thinking behind the university's finding. "Free discourse is vital to the University of Texas," he said. "As a university committed to knowledge and discovery, UT is steadfast in its support of inquiry and debate. Yet free speech also carries with it responsibility. The expression of free speech is not a license to drown out the speech of others, or to shout down ideas one disagrees with."

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