On 4 February, MLA President Marianne Hirsch sent the letter below to Karen Gould, President of Brooklyn College.
Dear President Gould,
I am writing as president of the Modern Language Association in solidarity and support of your efforts to uphold the principles of freedom of expression and debate in response to attacks by forces external to the university. I paste below a resolution ratified by the MLA membership that unequivocally defends the rights of university faculties and departments to sponsor events on campus and to debate questions related to the Middle East freely and from any point of view. Should this resolution be of any help in your continuing efforts, please feel free to use it, and please let me know if the MLA can be of any help in this struggle.
I wish you bon courage and send best wishes,
Whereas the MLA recognizes that the Middle East is a subject of intense debate, and
Whereas it is essential that colleges and universities protect the rights of faculty members to speak forthrightly on all sides of this issue,
Be it resolved that, while people outside the university have the right to express their views, universities must resist the inclusion of unsolicited outside opinion in faculty appointment or promotion reviews, and
Be it resolved that the MLA defend the academic freedom and the freedom of speech of faculty members and invited speakers to address the issue of the Middle East in the manner they choose.
President, Modern Language Association of America
William Peterfield Trent Professor of English and Comparative Literature
Professor, Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality