Statement of the AAUP-Penn Executive Committee on the Resignation of President Magill
December 9, 2023
In recent months, trustees, donors, lobbying organizations, and members of Congress have repeatedly misrepresented the words and deeds of Penn faculty and students who have expressed concern for Palestinian civilians and criticized the war in Gaza, going so far as to suggest that faculty who have publicly condemned Hamas were Hamas supporters and that groups protesting genocide were calling for genocide. These distortions and attacks on our colleagues have not addressed the scourge of antisemitism—a real and grave problem. Instead, they have threatened the ability of faculty and students to research, teach, study, and publicly discuss the history, politics, and cultures of Israel and Palestine. These attacks strike at the heart of the mission of an educational institution: to foster open, critical, and rigorous research and teaching that can produce knowledge for the public good in a democratic society.
The ability of donors, lobbying groups, and members of Congress to destabilize the University of Pennsylvania reveals the need to restore a strong faculty voice in the governance of the institution. The next president must defend the principles of shared governance and academic freedom, which protect the educational mission of the university. And they must correct what has become a dangerous myth suggesting that the defense of academic freedom and open expression is in any way contradictory to the fight against antisemitism. We intend to see that Penn’s next president lives up to this responsibility.
For further information, please see past statements of the AAUP-Penn Executive Committee:
- Statement on Threats to Academic Freedom, University Governance, and Safety at the University of Pennsylvania, October 28
- Letter on Targeted Harassment, November 20
- Urgent message regarding film screening and threats to academic freedom, November 28
- Message on the Dec. 5 Congressional hearing, Dec. 6