Statement from Dean Ann Kirschner 9/12/13

Statement from Dean Ann Kirschner
Macaulay Honors College
The City University of New York
September 12, 2013

Monday, Sept 9 2013 was a great day for learning. Millions of NYC
schoolchildren returned to their classrooms. New Yorkers were preparing
to exercise their right to vote. And in one classroom at Macaulay Honors
College, Dr. David Petraeus, visiting professor of public policy at
Macaulay Honors College for the 2013-14 academic year, taught the first
session of his honors seminar: “Are We on the Threshold of the (North)
American Decade?”

Before and during Dr. Petraeus’ class, however, a group of protesters
demonstrated in front of the college. That demonstration ended before
the conclusion of the class. Sometime later, while walking off campus,
Dr. Petraeus was confronted by a group of protesters, who surrounded him
and persisted in following him, chanting as a group, shouting at him, and
pounding on a car that he entered.

Harassment and abusive behavior toward a faculty member are antithetical
to the university’s mission of free and open dialogue. Although this
may be obvious, this kind of behavior strikes more deeply at the heart of
our cherished American right to express our beliefs without threats or
fear of retribution.

As a result of this incident, I released the following statement, which
is posted to the Macaulay Honors College website

“Our university is a place where complex issues and points of view across
the political and cultural spectrum are considered and debated in the
hope that we might offer solutions to the problems in our world. In
order to advance reasoned debate on such issues, it is important that
multiple points of view be heard.
“Great universities strive to connect their students with remarkable
leaders and thinkers so students can examine a variety of ideas,debate
them, and form their own opinions. Those perspectives find expression
through discussion in and out of the classroom.
“We may disagree, but we must always do so in a spirit of mutual respect
and understanding. While the college supports the articulation of all
points of view on critical issues, it is essential thatdialogue within
the academic setting always be conducted civilly.”