If you’ve never heard of BDS, it stands for boycott, divest from and sanction Israel. A better description would be Boycott Divest Sanction and Destroy Israel Movement.
Peter Bonilla of The FIRE reports.
NYC Lawmakers Threaten Brooklyn College Over Controversial Forum
The last few days have seen controversy brewing over a planned event at Brooklyn College. The planned February 7 event, titled “BDS Movement Against Israel” and co-sponsored by several student groups as well as Brooklyn College’s political science department, is slated to feature Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti, two proponents of the push to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (hence the “BDS” shorthand).
Particularly controversial has been the political science department’s co-sponsorship of the event—which some have criticized as constituting an official endorsement of the event and the views of its speakers by Brooklyn College. Political Science Chair Paisley Currah has released a clarifying statement promising that “We welcome—indeed encourage—requests to co-sponsor speakers and events from all student groups, departments, and programs.” Currah further writes that “[e]ach and every request will be given equal consideration.” The college, meanwhile, has firmly defended the department’s academic freedom, with spokesperson Jeremy Thompson telling the New York Post that
As a university, we are committed to academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. We don’t tell student groups or academic departments what topics they can or cannot discuss.
(Glad to hear this positive attitude towards academic freedom, since that hasn’t always been the case.) Additionally, Brooklyn College President Karen L. Gould issued a letter to the campus stating that
[I]t is incumbent upon us to uphold the tenets of academic freedom and allow our students and faculty to engage in dialogue and debate on topics they may choose, even those with which members of our campus and broader community may vehemently disagree.
City University of New York (which includes Brooklyn College) Chancellor Matthew Goldstein has publicly backed Gould, and like Gould has taken a strong stand for the right to freedom of speech that makes controversial events such as the planned BDS forum possible.
NYC Lawmakers Threaten Brooklyn College Over Controversial Forum (The FIRE)