posted by CAA — Feb 09, 2024
On behalf of the College Art Association (CAA) and its Advocacy Committee, I write in support of an open letter from the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) written on December 18, 2023. As a partner learned society under the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), we urge you to uphold and protect academic and creative freedom on your campuses.
Since October 2023, we have seen a surge in threats to faculty, students, and college staff. The current Gaza-Israel conflict has generated widespread academic and scholastic debate; we call upon you during this difficult time to protect free speech and to defend academic freedom for all campus community members. We also urge you to refrain from censoring artist exhibitions in your campus galleries and museums.
CAA honors diversity and reflects an extraordinary range of cultures, perspectives, education, and experiences that make the advancement of art and design integral to our global constituencies and to culture at large.
CAA is committed to ensuring academic freedom and freedom of artistic expression and exhibition. We agree with MESA that “free speech is essential for any democratic polity, and this country’s institutions of higher education should be places in which even the most controversial and unpopular views can be expressed, debated and criticized. At the same time, all students deserve equal access to education, free from harassment and discrimination. Unfortunately, we are witnessing a dramatic increase in antisemitic, anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim harassment and discrimination on our campuses.”
As university leaders, you bear responsibility during charged political times to safeguard academic freedom, freedom of expression and artistic practice, as well as the physical welfare of all members of your community. We urge you to protect students, faculty, and staff and honor their right to freedom of speech without fear of intimidation, harassment, or retaliation.
Jennifer Rissler, PhD
President, Board of Directors
CAA | Advancing Art and Design