Queen's University

Statement by Principal Karen Hitchcock on the academic boycott of Israeli universities being considered by Britain’s University and College Union
 

Academic freedom is deeply enshrined in the culture of Queen’s University. Its core tenets – freedom in research and publication, freedom of expression in the classroom and freedom from censorship for speaking out – are basic to the university’s central purpose and ingrained in our history and traditions.

The academic boycott of Israeli universities being considered by Britain’s University and College Union (UCU) is antithetical to the core value of academic freedom, which is cherished by Queen’s and other universities around the world.

Freedom of inquiry and expression carries with it responsibilities – to encourage open debate and dialogue, and to listen to and learn from the views of others. We must defend these freedoms of speech and inquiry even as we engage with those whose views may differ greatly from our own. Contemporary society calls for leadership that respects but can also bridge social, cultural, economic and geopolitical divides. I therefore denounce the actions of the UCU and absolutely reject its approach.

Those of us who devote ourselves to the learning and discovery that characterizes the academy must defend the freedom of individuals to study, teach and carry out research without fear of harassment, intimidation or discrimination.

Therefore, if the British UCU pursues this ill-advised course, we will have no choice but to add Queen's University - and many other universities around the world - to its boycott list. We are proud to align ourselves with those who deplore the UCU's unacceptable attack on the values and principles that define us.

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