DePaul Students Ask University to Censure Philosophy Professor for Writings on Palestinians

Jason D. Hill, professor of philosophy at DePaul University, recently wrote an article for The Federalist about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has prompted students at his university to launch a petition calling for his censure.

The article takes an anti-Palestinian stance, with Professor Hill claiming that “Israel made an altruistic mistake toward the Palestinian people” after the 1967 war by treating them “as human beings with specific, inalienable rights” and not removing them from the area, and that the Palestinians “have no moral authority.” He states that “Israel has every moral right to wage a ruthless and unrelenting war against Hamas and to re-settle the land if it ever so desires.”

Laila Shawa, four photolithographs from the series, “Walls of Gaza II”

The student petition, brought to my attention by Inside Higher Ed, refers to The Federalist article and alludes to other writings of Hill, and asks the University to take action:

We, the students of DePaul University call upon the administration to censure Professor Hill for his heinous statements against marginalized communities. His comments create unsafe and uncomfortable spaces for everyone, especially Palestinian and Muslim students who now all refuse to enroll in a class that is taught by Professor Hill. We are not only seeking censure, but for Professor Hill to commit to racial sensitivity training and to release a public apology for his immoral conduct. It is imperative for DePaul University to condemn Professor Hill in order to reaffirm and reinstitute our mission.

According to IHE, the university released a statement properly affirming the academic freedom of faculty and students while also acknowledging the possible effects of controversial speech:

It should first be noted that Professor Hill’s statements do not reflect the views of DePaul University, but are his personal views on the subject. DePaul recognizes academic freedom must be an integral part of an intellectual institution. This freedom belongs not only to faculty, but students and all other members of the DePaul community. Protecting academic freedom requires that we maintain an environment where the members of our university community articulate, challenge and defend their ideas; however, that does not eliminate the need for empathy and concern.

Interestingly, John K. Wilson, writing at the Academe Blog, notes that Professor Hill may not be such a big fan of academic freedom, and has argued that we should defund and disband universities and then rebuild them on an ideological basis: “with conservative principles—that is, values advocating individualism, capitalism, Americanism, free speech, self-reliance and the morality of wealth creation.” Regarding “today’s scholars in humanities and social sciences,” Professor Hill says, “one cannot argue with such people. The only alternative is to shut them down.”

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