In recent weeks, the University of Michigan has been rocked by a series of scandals relating to Israel and anti-Semitism. In mid-September, John Cheney-Lippold, an associate professor, denied a letter of recommendation to a Jewish student that he had initially agreed to write, after learning that she intended to use it to study abroad in Israel. On Oct. 4, Emory Douglas, an outside speaker at a mandatory campus lecture, compared Hitler to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, splashing the words “guilty of genocide” across their faces on a presentation slide. And this past week, Lucy Peterson, a graduate student instructor, similarly denied a letter of recommendation to another Jewish student because she sought to study in Israel.
These incidents caused a firestorm on campus and unsurprisingly brought the university under heavy criticism. Refreshingly, the institution’s leadership quickly responded in a forceful manner that upheld the principle of academic freedom across the board. The statement issued on Oct. 9 by Michigan’s president and provost, though not perfect, is a model for other universities who will no doubt be faced with similar challenges. Here’s why:
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