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Letter from Leila Beckwith to UC Academic Senate Chair Robert Anderson

May 7, 2012 

Subject: questions about egregious UC Academic Senate statement

Professor Robert Anderson, Chair
Assembly of the Academic Senate
University of California

Dear Professor Anderson:

I am aware that you have sent to President Yudof, Vice-President Beckwith, and the Academic Senate Division Chairs a “Statement in Support of Faculty Harassed by Opponents of their Research,” which you state was proposed by the University Committee on Academic Freedom (UCAF) and endorsed by the Academic Council on April 25. (See email forwarded below). In that statement, you condemn “the ongoing use of harassment, intimidation and violent attacks mounted by individuals opposed to certain types of research,” and you specifically mention recent attacks that “have targeted scholars engaged in research on Middle Eastern politics, as well as those who use vertebrate animal subjects.”

While you claim that “at least 13 acts of violence since June 2006 have targeted individuals who do research involving animals, including a car bombing at a researcher’s home in March 2012,” you do not give any examples of harassment, intimidation or violent attacks against “scholars engaged in research on Middle Eastern politics.”

It is highly unusual, perhaps unprecedented, to assert such a serious accusation without providing any context or any evidence at all that UC scholars involved in Middle East research have been subjected to “harassment, intimidation and violent attacks.” Furthermore, it is unconscionable to intimate that these unexplained acts, which you have neither documented nor instantiated, are similar to the recent car bombing of a UC scholar engaged in animal research.

As a member of the UCLA academic senate, I ask that you provide me with the following:

  1. an explanation of why reference to attacks on scholars engaged in research on Middle Eastern politics was included in your statement, as well as documentation of such attacks.
  2. an answer to the question that my colleague and I posed to you in a letter dated 3/29/12 regarding UCLA Professor Shorter’s use of his class website for promoting a petition which he had signed, advocating the academic and cultural boycott of Israel:

Is Professor Shorter’s promotion of the academic and cultural boycott of Israel on his official UCLA class website protected by the University of California’s rules of academic freedom?

If I do not hear from you, I will assume that:

  • you have no evidence for your statement regarding attacks on University of California scholars who research Middle East politics;
  • you have recklessly misconstrued a legitimate question regarding policies about academic freedom as an attack on academic freedom;
  • your statement is an attempt to silence our concerns and legitimate questions about the potential abuse of academic freedom.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Leila Beckwith
Professor Emeritus
University of California at Los Angeles

UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor Scott Waugh
UCLA Committee on Privilege and Tenure Chair James Waschek
UCLA Grievance Advisory Committee Chair Jill Klessing
UCLA Academic Senate Committee on Academic Freedom Chair David Teplow
UC Senate Division Chairs
UC Senate Committee Chairs
UC Senate Staff
President Mark YudofVice President Steven Beckwith
UC Chancellors
UC Regents
UC Chief Deputy Counsel David Birnbaum
UC Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion (c/o Jesse Bernal)
California Speaker of the Assembly John A. Perez
California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson
California Senator Fran Pavley (UCLA)
California Senator Ted W. Lieu (UCLA)
California Senator Curren D. Price, Jr. (UCLA)
California Assembly Member Holly J. Mitchell (UCLA)
California Assembly Member Mike Feuer (UCLA)

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