It appears that a student movement is emerging that recognises the burgeoning, immoral purge of progressive facultyÂ represents a clear and present danger to quality education in the United States. The new McCarthyism eviscerates their educational right to be exposed to professors of disparate backgrounds and ideological predilections in their classrooms. DePaul University’s student Academic Freedom Committee has now been emulated by New York University’s student body. I have been invited by the Student Council of the College of Arts and Sciences to appear at the “Freedoms at Risk Conference” at New York University on Saturday, February 23, 2008 in the Kimmel Center for University Life. Norman G. Finkelstein, noted author and former professor at DePaul University, is scheduled to appear as well. This was the text of the e-mail invitation I received from two students: the president and student relations chair of the N.Y.U. student council:
N.Y.U. Washington Square Campus, Greenwich Village
February 6, 2008
Dear Prof. Kirstein,
It is our pleasure as members of the N.Y.U. College of Arts and Science Student Council, and of the greater academic community, to announce our first Freedoms at Risk Conference on Saturday, February 23, 2008 from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. in N.Y.U. Kimmel Center for Student Life’s Eisner and Lubin Auditorium. We cordially invite you to join us as a guest speaker during the teach-in portion of this conference – to share your experiences and knowledge regarding any incarnations of academic and political freedoms that are of particular importance to you as an individual, a professional, and an American.
The Freedoms at Risk Conference is to be an all-day event concerning the freedoms of speech, assembly, the press, and of academics (just to name a few) that are so often taken for granted, but that have recently been challenged, questioned, or re-asserted in various ways. It will include two teach-ins that will run from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; one regarding academic freedoms and the second regarding other political freedoms. Audience members will be encouraged to engage in discussion and ask questions of the speakers at the teach-ins. Following a two-hour recess, a plenum will be held from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. in which five speakers of various viewpoints will make their stances known, and light debate and discussion will be encouraged. Although we would like to have you speak during the teach-in portion of the conference, we strongly encourage you to attend as much of the conference as possible.
The scope of this conference has not been set a limit; our goal is to attract as many individual speakers from as many walks of life as possible, and to have a plethora of opinions on the issues associated with maintaining our precious freedoms heard and debated. In addition to the broad array of speakers being invited to open discussion and debate at the conference, a diverse audience is also welcomed to sit-in and participate. Although the event will be taking place at NYU, students, professionals, and press from throughout the area will be extended invitations to attend and take an active part in the conference by asking questions and considering a number of topics and viewpoints.
Extensive space has already been set aside for Freedoms At Risk on the NYU campus, and individuals who have already graciously agreed to take part include: Lorie Van Auken, one of the media-coined “Jersey Girls” who succeeded in lobbying for the 9/11 Commission in Washington, and a winner of the Glamour Magazine “Woman of the Year” award in 2004 in addition to awards from Ms. Magazine and Vanity Fair that same year; Norman Finkelstein, a distinguished academic who has held faculty positions at Rutgers University, New York University, and DePaul University among others and an accomplished writer of five books, one of which, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering has been named an international bestseller and has been sold in twenty-four foreign languages; and John Gerassi, a professor of the Queens College Political Science Department who has written a number of books on politics and international affairs, including an official biography on Jean-Paul Sartre.
We are very excited about the first ever N.Y.U. Freedoms at Risk Conference and are confident it will be a huge success. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email us. We sincerely hope you are excited about the conference as well, and we eagerly await your response.
Names Deleted by Ed.