An open letter of solidarity and Support
Dear President Englert and members of the Temple University Board of Trustees,
In his November 28th address to the United Nations on International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Marc Lamont Hill, Temple University’s Steve Charles Professor of Media, Cities, and Solutions, courageously advocated for the human rights of Palestinians. In so doing, Hill insisted on the need for a global community of concerned citizens to take action to ensure Palestinian people would no longer be consider exceptions to being afforded the most basic of freedoms, particularly those disclosed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As a scholar deeply and rigorously committed to the field of Middle Eastern Studies, Dr. Hill drew upon multiple sources of evidence to merely assert those rights for consideration within a public forum. What is more, Dr. Hill did so while also explicitly stating a strong desire for a non-violent and peaceful resolution whenever possible. To be sure, such rights for all human beings is something of which we should all be in full support.
As concerned faculty representing various fields and disciplines, and higher education stakeholders affiliated with an array of colleges and universities, we are writing to you in solidarity with and support of Professor Hill’s academic freedom and freedom of speech as a citizen. The American Association of University Professors’ 1940 Statement of Statement on Academic Freedom, which has been endorsed by 240 national scholarly and educational associations, states “College and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline …” Furthermore, per Temple University policy 03.70.02 created August 2006, “Free inquiry and free expression are indispensable to the attainment of these goals. As members of the academic community, students should be encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in a sustained and independent search for truth.” Students cannot be encouraged to develop critical judgment without professors engaging in the type of crucial and incisive analyses as those offered by Dr. Hill. Indeed, Dr. Hill’s speech before the United Nations regarding Palestinian freedom demonstrates critical judgment and his independent search for truth. Therefore, instead of distancing itself from Dr. Hill, Temple University should embrace and applaud him for courageously exemplifying its espoused ideals.
Additionally, we are deeply disheartened by the comments made Temple University Board of Trustees chair Patrick O’Connor. Specifically, we are dismayed that the board has looked into procedures for Dr. Hill’s firing simply for expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people. Instead of continuing the pursuit of any retributive actions against Dr. Hill, particularly those efforts that infringe upon his academic freedom and first amendment guarantee to free speech, we urge the University to join his advocacy for universal human rights worldwide. We further ask you to consider the unique learning opportunity this moment and Dr. Hill’s important ideas present for the students, staff, and faculty at Temple University. Rather than giving-in to populist rhetoric that attempts to misconstrue and conflate Hill’s remarks with anti-Semitism, an oppressive system to which we and Dr. Hill remain vehemently opposed, we implore university leaders to exercise nuanced discernment and reason to provide the university community with the proper historical context and the present-day realities of Palestinian peoples and their families.
Thank you for your serious consideration.