Officials at Brooklyn College are defending a campus event, cosponsored by the institution’s political-science department, that features a lecture by a group that supports a boycott of Israel, The New York Times reported. A planned appearance by speakers from the group B.D.S., which stands for “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions,” has drawn withering criticism from pro-Israel groups on the campus and some local politicians, who argue that the event is inappropriate and academically biased.
The department’s supporters say academic freedom and freedom of speech permit the college, part of the City University of New York, to hold events featuring controversial speakers, even if some find those speakers’ views troubling.
“Brooklyn College does not endorse the views of the speakers visiting our campus next week, just as it has not endorsed those of previous visitors to our campus with opposing views,” wrote Karen L. Gould, the college’s president, in a letter to the campus this week. “We do, however, uphold their right to speak, and the rights of our students and faculty to attend, listen, and fully debate.” In another message, the college pointed out that a student group known as the Israel Club will be sponsoring its own event later this month.
In a written statement on Thursday, Matthew Goldstein, CUNY’s chancellor, expressed strong support for Ms. Gould and added that while he abhors the aims of the boycott movement, he believes that the appropriate remedy is more speech. “In order to ensure rigorous and thoughtful discussion and better understanding of issues of social and political justice,” he said, “it is imperative that many reasoned voices participate in debate.”