In opposition to the student referendum on a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions
Students for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP) proposed boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions infringes upon academic freedom and damages the Bowdoin community. We believe the student body has not been sufficiently informed about the serious effects that the boycott will have on members of our college, prospective students and alumni. To be clear, this article is not a stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, rather we aim to make clear the effects of the boycott.
If a boycott were to take effect, the implications would include:No academic collaboration with scholars acting as representatives of Israeli universitiesNo ability for someone to study abroad at an Israeli UniversityNo visiting appointments for Bowdoin faculty at an Israeli UniversityNo publication in any journal or press affiliated with an Israeli institutionNo exchange of curators or scholarship related to antiquities in our museumNo visits to Bowdoin by anyone acting as a representative of an Israeli institution
If this referendum passes, it will severely restrict Bowdoin students’ educational opportunities as well as those of faculty and staff. We feel that the boycott will stifle discussion about the broader conflict and limit the free exchange of ideas. This boycott threatens Bowdoin’s academic integrity and reputation as an open-minded and tolerant community.
In order for a vote on the referendum to officially count, 1/3 of the total student body must vote. For the referendum to pass, 2/3 of those who vote must vote “yes.” In other words, a minimum of roughly 600 students must vote on the referendum and 400 of these votes must be votes of “yes” in order for this referendum to pass and go to the administration representing the voice of the student body.
Students will have three voting options on this petition. A vote of “yes” will be a vote in favor of the boycott and the passing of the referendum. A vote of “no” will be a vote against it. The third voting option will be to select “abstain.” This option is for students who do not feel comfortable voting on this decision or feel inadequately informed.
To reiterate, both the foreseeable and unforeseeable implications of this boycott would be drastic. We would be remiss in letting a small number of students represent the opinion of the entire Bowdoin community. As such, we urge all students to vote and make their voices heard.
If you would like to learn more, we encourage you to reach out to any of the signatories below.
Matt Friedland is a member of the class of 2015 and Jared Feldman is a member of the class of 2016. They submitted this piece on behalf of themselves and Evan Eklund '16, Noah Safian '17, Clara Belitz '17, Ted Romney '15, David Nemirov '15, Shan Nagar '16, Rachel Snyder '16, Zachary Albert '16, Doug Caplan '15, Leah Kahn '15, Matthew Liptrot '16 and Andrew Fradin '16.