Pitzer President Vetoes Motion to Suspend Study Abroad Programs in Israel
Pitzer College’s study-abroad program at the University of Haifa in Israel has recently become a hotly debated topic among its campus community.
Last week, college president Melvin L. Oliver vetoed a motion passed by the College Council, the school’s governing body of faculty and student senators, to suspend its study abroad program with the University of Haifa.
The motion, which was first introduced by anthropology and history professor Daniel Sega, received 67 votes in favor of suspending the program until “the Israeli state ends its restrictions on entry to Israel based on ancestry and/or political speech.”
The motion also called on the Israeli government to grant visas for exchange programs to students studying in Palestinian universities.
However, despite the voting results, President Oliver vetoed the motion last Thursday and said he will not implement the recommendations suggested by the council.
“In the very rare instance that Pitzer College does take such a position, common sense dictates that there must be a consensus across all the College’s internal and external constituencies in support of the position. This recommendation fails that test,” he wrote in a letter to the community.
Oliver added that the motion scuttles the academic freedom of students who wish to study at the University of Haifa, as the college has the potential to promote intercultural understanding.
“Among Pitzer’s core values is the promotion of intercultural understanding, much of that achieved through our vibrant study abroad program that enables our students to reach their own conclusions about some of the world’s most vexing challenges through on-the-ground, face-to-face, people-to-people experience,” he wrote.
Earlier in November 2018, a similar motion was passed by Pitzer faculty to halt the school’s study-aboard programs with Israel. However, at the time, the resolution encountered resistance by the student government who introduced a counter resolution calling the actions of the faculty into question.