UCSB forum on academic freedom re-scheduled for May 21

Larger venue needed to accommodate growing public interest

Contact: cdaf.ucsb@gmail.com.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — A May 7 forum on academic freedom at the University of California at Santa Barbara has been re-scheduled for May 21 to accommodate a larger audience than originally anticipated.

Broad media coverage of the charges of anti-Semitism against UCSB sociology professor William I. Robinson has generated more public interest in the event, prompting the Committee to Defend Academic Freedom (CDAF) to look for a larger venue, said CDAF co-founder and media coordinator Yousef Baker.

“We’re expecting a lot of people, so we changed the location to a bigger auditorium on campus,” Baker said.

The forum is sponsored by CDAF, which UCSB students formed in April after the university’s Academic Senate decided to open a formal investigation against Robinson.

The sociology professor introduced materials critical of Israeli state policies in a course on globalization in January. They included a photo essay that he forwarded to students from the Internet and that had been circulating in the public realm. The photos compared images of Israeli abuse against Palestinians during the recent military invasion of Gaza with Nazi abuses during the holocaust. Two students took offense at the images and withdrew from the course, prompting the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to demand that the university investigate Robinson for “anti-Semitism.”

A three-member panel of scholars will address the forum, Baker said.

UCSB Law and Society Program professor Lisa Hajjar will discuss the principles and practices of academic freedom and the university’s obligation to them.

Richard Falk, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories and a visiting scholar on global studies at UCSB, will talk about Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the importance of academic freedom to ensure an open and free dialogue about the issue.

UCSB associate professor of sociology Geoff Raymond will discuss the Robinson case specifically and the irregularities committed by university officials handling charges against the professor.

A question and answer period will follow the presentations by panelists.

The forum is free and open to the public. It runs from 7 to 9 p.m. on the UCSB campus at Embarcadero Hall located at 935 Embarcadero del Norte.

For detailed information about the Robinson case, visit CDAF’s online blog at http://www.sb4af.wordpress.com.

For media inquiries about the forum, email cdaf.ucsb@gmail.com.

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