FIRE’s Robert Shibley Weighs in on BDS Controversy at Brooklyn College

By March 20, 2013

Writing for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley weighs in on the recent "boycott, divestment, and sanctions" (BDS) controversy at Brooklyn College. Torch readers will recall that last month New York City lawmakers threatened the public college’s funding over a planned "BDS Movement Against Israel" campus event, which was sponsored by several student groups as well as the college’s political science department. You can read about the matter and FIRE’s response, including our open letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other public officials, here.

As one of several commentators writing for the Pope Center in its "Commentaries" feature, Robert discusses the larger lessons to be learned from this episode:

To receive a truly liberal education, university students must confront ideas that seem wrong, alien, or offensive. Creating an environment in which this cannot happen allows students to hold on to their beliefs through prejudice rather than reason. Who benefits from this? Certainly not the students, and certainly not American society. The only beneficiaries are those whose power relies on elevating their own beliefs and expression beyond the reach of questioning. They may be good people; they may even be right. But in a free society, no person and no viewpoint is entitled to unquestioning, uncritical obedience. 

There’s much more where that came from, so please read Robert’s insights and those of the other commentators (including former FIRE stalwart Adam Kissel) over at the Pope Center.

Schools: Brooklyn College, City University of New York