An Open Letter From Wesleyan Alumnae/i to President Michael Roth

To President Michael Roth,
As proud alumnae/i of Wesleyan University, and as advocates of Wesleyan’s progressive tradition, we the undersigned declare that Pres. Michael S. Roth’s recent op-ed in the LA Times does not speak in our names.

Writing “as president of Wesleyan, and as a historian,” Roth denounced a recent resolution in support of the boycott of Israeli academic institutions by the American Studies Association (ASA), calling it “phony progressivism” and calling on academics to reject it as an “irresponsible attack on academic freedom.” Carolyn Karcher, professor emerita of English at Temple University, published a response to Roth’s editorial.

We, the undersigned — while we hold different individual views on the boycott, divestment and sanctions (or BDS) movement — reject Pres. Roth’s understanding of progressivism and academic freedom. Among other omissions, his editorial did not address the academic freedom of Palestinian scholars and students, who are routinely denied access to teaching, travel, and free speech. It also did not address the academic freedom of American scholars who work with Palestinians, or who speak and write in support of BDS, although that freedom is now under threat in New York State and beyond. We fear a chilling environment akin to McCarthyism if respectful open dialogue is not permitted on this urgent issue facing universities worldwide.

As a historian, Pres. Roth is surely aware of the important role of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions in the progressive struggle to end the apartheid state in South Africa. Indeed, while he was himself a Wesleyan student in 1978, Roth occupied the office of then-President Campbell in support of university divestment from South Africa. Roth belongs to the tradition of international solidarity campaigns against the human rights violations of specific nations, even though he now ridicules and rejects a campaign in that tradition.

Pres. Roth does not speak in our names when he calls on academics to reject the boycott without first informing themselves of the issues and familiarizing themselves with the intellectually rigorous and democratically accountable manner in which the ASA, together with a growing number of academic organizations, reached their decision.

Signed,

Benjamin Abravanel, ‘13
Joseph Cribb, ‘13
Evan Weber '13
Ague Ortega, ‘13
Benjamin Abravanel, ‘13
Bennett Kirschner, ‘13
Cory Meara-Bainbridge, ‘13
Cristine Khan, ‘13
Sethe Lamming, ‘13
Marjorie Dodson, ‘13
Anwar Batte, ‘13
May Lee Watase, ‘13
Aaron Marcus, ‘13
Vivianne Swerdlow, ‘13
Mickey Capper, '13

Meggie Twible, ‘12
Paul Blasenheim, '12
Mica Taliaferro, ‘12
Zak Kirkwood, ‘12
Nathaniel Draper, ‘12
Cara Tratner, ‘12
Aviva Markowitz, ‘12
Dan Fischer, ‘12
Jeremy Keim-Shenk, ‘12
Jisan Zaman, ‘12

Emilia Levitas, ‘11
Abe Bobman, '11
Stephanie Lee, ‘11
Anya Backlund, ‘11
Kevin Hayes, ‘11
Kelly Morgan, ‘11
Yael Channoff, ‘11
David Thompson, ‘11
Miranda Becker, ‘11

Vladimir Gurewich, ‘10
Miles Tokunow, ‘10
Lucas Guilkey, '10
Nicholas Davenport, ‘10
Elissa Martel, ‘10
Paolo Speirn, ‘10
Rosa Seidelman, ‘10
Arielle Berrick, ‘10
Jenny Ajl, ‘10
Eric Bissell, ‘10
Elizabeth Krushnic, ‘10
Lex Horan, ‘10
Sarah Tract-Wanck, ‘10

Aviva Tevah, ‘09
Briana Deutsch, ‘09
Elana Baurer, ’09
Spencer Dehnavi née Garrod, ’09
Martha Tenney, ‘09
Travis Fitzgerald, ‘09
Sara Swetzoff, ‘09
Corinne Baldwin, ‘09
Lindsay Grace Weber, ‘09
Trent Grassian, ‘09
Randa Tawil, ‘09
Jorge Andres Soto, '09
Margo Fernandez-Burgos, '09

Lisa Cunningham, ‘08
Micaela Anaya, ‘08
Sara Maeder, ‘08
Jillian White, ‘08
Michael Litwack, ‘08, ASA member
Ledah Wilcox, ‘08
Margaret Mitchell, ‘08
MJ Kaufman, ‘08
Bench Ansfield, ‘08, ASA member
Joss Lake, ‘08
Jess Sullivan, ‘08

Hannah Wallerstein, ‘07
Brian Dilks-Brotman, ‘07
Leora Abelson, ‘07
Jennifer Celestin, ‘07
Portia Rue Hemphill, ‘07
Paige Kruza, ‘07
Meenasarani Linde Murugan, ‘07, ASA member
J. Chesley Burruss, ‘07
Leon Hilton, ‘07, ASA Member
Isaac Lev Szmonko '07

David Stein, ‘06, ASA member
Carrie Schiff, ‘06
Stephanie Diana Garcia, ‘06
Sarah B. Lipkin, ‘06
Irn Coury, ‘06
Benjamin Goldstein '06

Karisa Butler-Wall, ‘05, ASA member
Javier Gastón-Greenberg, ‘05
Evan Bissell, ‘05
Andreas Gurewich, ‘05
Ada Pinkston, '05
Tev Monnin, '05
Gina Eichenbaum-Pikser, '05
Nikolas McConnie-Saad, '05
Naomi Goldenson, ‘05
Rachel Landis Pecker, ‘05
Bayard Love, '05
M. Liz Andrews, ‘05
Emrah Yildiz '05

Ari Lev Fornari, ‘04
Shireen Tawil, '04
Emma Alpert, ‘04
Nicholas Malinowski, ‘04
Una Ostao, ‘04
David Fine, ‘04
Kendra Ing, '04
Lily Haskell, ‘04
Jenny Hipscher, ‘04
Phoebe Schell, ‘04
Elizabeth Eyster, ‘04
Alsarah Abunama-Elgadi, ‘04
Jeff Jorve, ‘04
Kieran Krug-Meadows, ‘04
Abby Biberman, ‘04
Ellie Shrier, '04
Zack Hall, ‘04

Mayuran Tiruchelvam, ’03
Beck Witt, ’03
Conrad Wenzel, ‘03
Meredith Jacks, '03
Signe Predmore, ‘03
Sarah Norr, ‘03
Manuel Rosaldo, ‘03
Simca Horwitz, ‘03

Elizabeth Seaman, '02
Sonia Silbert '02
Jen Barkan, ‘02
Karen Weingarten, ‘02
Christene DeJong, ‘02
Abigail Boggs, ‘02, ASA

Olivia deBree, ‘01
Yuri Gottesman, ‘01

Abigail Levine, '99

Rachel Meeropol, '97
Sabelo Narasimhan, ‘97
Trevor Griffey, ‘97

Sally Lee, ‘96
Joshua Guild, ‘96, ASA Member
Michael Carrasco, ‘95
Tavia Nyong’o, ‘95, ASA Member
Tryon Woods, ‘95, ASA member

Leigh Raiford '94, ASA Member
Jordana Rosenberg, '94, ASA Member
Daniel Martinez HoSang '93, ASA member
Johanna Crane, ‘93

Rebecca Hill, ‘91, ASA member
Christian K. Wedemeyer, ‘90
Anna McCarthy, ‘89
Michael Trask '89

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