A group of 150 University of California professors on Thursday pushed back on the school president's call for a plan to teach a "viewpoint neutral" Middle Eastern history, calling it a violation of academic freedom and the First Amendment.
UC President Michael Drake two weeks ago announced several initiatives to tamp down anger and address concerns amid persistent conflict campus between Palestinian and Israeli sympathizers on campus, The Hill reported.
"We are all committed to inclusivity and academic excellence, but to suggest that the UC administration should determine how and what we teach will set a chilling precedent for our field and the many others engaged in teaching topics that might be considered controversial or divisive, like climate change, the history of racism, and genocide and mass atrocity," the professors wrote in their letter.
By using that term, they continued, "you appear to be calling into question the academic integrity of the community of University of California scholars already engaged in the historical study and teaching of the Middle East."
"It is an unneeded rebuke of the rigorous work done by our colleagues who spend significant time developing and delivering world-class curriculum and pedagogy, not to mention the very principle of faculty shared governance which rests in the faculty the sole responsibility for maintaining the quality of our universities' academic programs," they added.
The UC system consists of 10 campuses serving nearly 300,000 students across California.
According to Drake's remarks, $2 million will be used to "develop educational programs at each UC campus ... focused on better understanding antisemitism and Islamophobia, how to recognize and combat extremism, and a viewpoint-neutral history of the Middle East."
Another $2 million will be devoted to training leadership, staff, and faculty, he said.
"The goal is to ensure that UC leaders and educators are equipped with the knowledge they need to respond when issues arise and that our university policies are supportive, preventative, and viewpoint-neutral," he said.
Solange Reyner ✉
Solange Reyner is a writer and editor for Newsmax. She has more than 15 years in the journalism industry reporting and covering news, sports and politics.
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