Academic Freedom

What is Academic Freedom?

Many colleges and universities adapt the standards from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) on Academic Freedom.   The AAUP proposes that, "...institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition" (1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure)."  In 2013 they adopted the “Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure.” 

Profs. Cheyfitz and Jacobson

Ithaca College hosted a talk by Eric Cheyfitz, the Ernest I. White Professor of American Studies and Humane Letters at Cornell University, on “Academic Freedom and the American Studies Association Academic Boycott of Israel.” His presentation, which is free and open to the public, took place on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m. in Klingenstein Lounge, Egbert Hall.

Cheyfitz is a member of the American Studies Association (ASA), which voted last December to endorse a resolution supporting an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. Several academic organizations have called for such a boycott in protest of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and what they consider the involvement of Israeli universities in supporting government policy. The ASA is the nation’s oldest and largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history.

A supporter of the boycott decision, Cheyfitz teaches courses on American literatures, American Indian literatures and federal Indian law. From 2008–11 he served as director of Cornell’s American Indian Program.  Read his Cornell University profile.

His talk is cosponsored by the Ithaca College Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity; the Departments of English and Politics; and the Park Center for Independent Media. For more information, contact Beth Harris, associate professor of politics, at
Ithaca College hosted a talk by William A. Jacobson, a clinical professor of law and director of the Securities Law Clinic at the Cornell University Law School, on “The Case for Israel and Academic Freedom.” His presentation, which is free and open to the public, took place on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 8 p.m. in Clark Lounge, Egbert Hall.  If you missed it, you can watch it on YouTube.

Jacobson is the founder and publisher of two popular websites, Legal Insurrection and College Insurrection. Legal Insurrection is at the forefront of opposing the academic boycott of Israel and has filed a challenge to the tax exempt status of the American Studies Association, which voted in December to endorse a resolution supporting an academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

Prior to joining the Cornell law faculty in 2007, Jacobson had a highly successful civil litigation and arbitration practice, concentrating in investment, employment and business disputes in the securities industry. He is quoted frequently in national media on issues related to investment fraud and investor protection. He earned his law degree from Harvard Law School, where he served as senior editor of the Harvard International Law Journal and director of litigation for the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project. Read his Cornell University Profile

Jacobson’s talk is sponsored by the Jewish studies program and Hillel at Ithaca College. For more information, contact Hillel director Igor Khokhlov

American Studies Association (ASA)

American Studies Association (homepage) "The American Studies Association is the nation’s oldest and largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history"
  • ASA Members Vote To Endorse Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions (February 8, 2014) lede, "The members of the American Studies Association have endorsed the Association’s participation in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. In an election that attracted 1252 voters, the largest number of participants in the organization’s history, 66.05% of voters endorsed the resolution, while 30.5% of voters voted no and 3.43% abstained. The election was a response to the ASA National Council’s announcement on December 4 that it supported the academic boycott and, in an unprecedented action to ensure a democratic process, asked its membership for their approval. Please see the ASA website for a collection of supporting documents. "
Documents from the ASA homepage (as of February 14, 2014):

What is BDS?

What is the BDS movement?  BDS is an acronym for: Boycott, Divestment &Sanctions.  

Here is the description from their website:
  • BDS Movement: Freedom Justice Equality. From the "Learn" tab, "The global movement for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights was initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005, and is coordinated by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), established in 2007. BDS is a strategy that allows people of conscience to play an effective role in the Palestinian struggle for justice."
  • BDS Movement: Academic Boycott  This tab provides a history of PACBI; they refer to for more information.

Journal of Academic Freedom v. 4 2013

Journal of Academic Freedom (AAUP) Readers Respond Authors Respond Editor’s Statement

Legal Implications

Guide to state and federal legislation from Jewish Voice for Peace New York State Federal U.S. Department of State
  • Department Of State. The Office of Website Management, B. of P. A. (2014). Israel and The Occupied Territories (Report). Department Of State. The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs. The Modern Language Association's resolution addresses the U.S. Department of State.
Israeli Law against BDS

Selected Reading

General Readings on Academic Freedom: Articles in the library's databases (on EBSCO's platform -  use Netpass to access): By Profs. Cheyfitz and Jacobson: Additional Readings:

Selected Library Books

Contact Us

picture of Cathy Michael
Communications Librarian
(607) 274-1293

Search Argos

Ithaca College: Academic Freedom

Ithaca College Policy Manual

Volume IV: Faculty Handbook

4.4 The Faculty's Obligations, Rights, Academic Freedom, and Code of Ethics

Volume V: Staff, 5.9 Librarian Employment Policies and Procedures
5.9.8 Academic Freedom

Volume VII: Students: 7.1.2. Student Conduct Code Statement of Rights and Freedoms

College Presidents Respond


References to statements on the issue are provided, if found:

Background Sources

Freedom to think, write and to speak

Related to Academic Freedom, often used at colleges and universities, are the following concepts:  intellectual freedom, censorship, freedom of information, freedom of speech, and freedom to teach.

ACLU: Academic Freedom

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