There has been substantial commentary regarding an event featuring two speakers to be held at Brooklyn College of The City University of New York next week. I want to emphasize three points regarding the event and the commentary it has provoked.
· I strongly support Brooklyn College President Karen Gould. Her outstanding leadership of Brooklyn College continues to advance this important institution, and I commend her principled and respectful approach in working with all of the college’s diverse constituencies.
· As President Gould has noted, a university is a place where “a college community may consider complex issues and points of view across the political and cultural spectrum,” even when “the issues discussed may be challenging and the points of view expressed may be controversial.” In order to advance reasoned debate and dialogue on such issues, it is important that multiple points of view be heard. I urge the many voices at the college to engage in campus discussions, whether through active participation in next week’s event or through the organization of other events that offer different viewpoints, topics and formats. A February 14 on-campus event featuring Dr. Anat Berko, an expert on security issues in Israel, is one such example.
· I personally abhor and am appalled by the aims of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. I also agree with Justice Louis D. Brandeis that “if there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.” In order to ensure rigorous and thoughtful discussion and better understanding of issues of social and political justice, it is imperative that many reasoned voices participate in debate. Like all of us in higher education, I support the expression of the full complement of perspectives on critical issues. To those of you on the sidelines, I encourage you to stand up and be heard.