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Investigate Connecticut College

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Petitioning the New England Association of Schools and Colleges to re-evaluate Connecticut College’s accreditation in light of its violation of the integrity criteria during the attack on Professor Pessin during the Spring 2015 semester.

We, the undersigned, petition the New England Association of Schools and Colleges to launch an independent, transparent investigation and re-evaluate its accreditation of Connecticut College

  • For failing to uphold its own Honor Code;
  • For creating a hostile environment for Jewish professors and students; and
  • For failing to act with responsibility and academic integrity during the libeling of a Jewish professor by a politically-motivated group.

Connecticut College has not disclosed the full details of its actions during the libeling and public shaming of a Jewish professor for supporting Israel’s right to defend itself. However, the following is known:

In March 2015, a student affiliated with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a radical, anti-Semitic organization, at Connecticut College acting in conjunction with the Director of Global Islamic Studies led an attack on a Jewish professor for condemning Hamas during the 2014 Gaza war when Hamas fired 4,005 missiles at civilians in Israel.

After three students knowingly libeled Professor Pessin in the college’s newspaper (accusing him of criticizing Palestinians rather than Hamas), the editor-in-chief (who did not contact the professor for comment) then co-authored a libelous petition denouncing Professor Pessin. These acts of libel violate the Connecticut College Honor Code. 

The Honor Code also obligates the college to investigate all violations (whether reported formally or informally). However, Connecticut College chose not to investigate these four students. In fact, the college went so far as to bestow a “Scholar Activist Award” on one of the four students. 

The college’s failure to investigate constitutes a violation of the College’s own honor code and an attack on the academic integrity of the college—and the institution that accredits it.

Connecticut College was fully aware that the students’ claims were false. However, rather than inform the community that Professor Pessin’s post pertained to Hamas and clarifying that his speech was not an act of bigotry, the Connecticut College administration accommodated and even participated in a political lynching of the Jewish professor. They posted (and effectively endorsed) statements of condemnation from almost every departments and office while they pressured Professor Pessin to issue an apology rather than giving him the opportunity to defend himself.

Professor Pessin and his family received hate mail and death threats, and the constant and overwhelming stress from this ordeal forced him to take a medical leave of absence. He has yet to return.

In responding to the Pessin Affair in this fashion, Connecticut College has violated NEASC’s accreditation guidelines on integrity. In particular, Connecticut College has failed to meet these important criteria of integrity:

  • “The institution endeavors to exemplify the values it articulates in its mission statement”
  • “The institution expects that members of its community …will act responsibly and with integrity; and it systematically provides support in the pursuit thereof”
  •  “Institutional leadership fosters an atmosphere where issues of integrity can be openly considered”
  • “Truthfulness, clarity, and fairness characterize the institution’s relations with all internal … constituencies”
  • “The pursuit of institutional integrity is strengthened through the application of findings from periodic and episodic assessments of the policies and conditions that support the achievement of these aims among members of the institutional community”

We, the undersigned, strongly urge the NEASC to undertake an independent, transparent investigation into the events of Spring 2015 and to re-evaluate the accreditation of Connecticut College.

 

Please Tell Them What You Think!

 

NEASC: Kathy Willis (kwillis@neasc.org) and Patricia Meservy (president@salemstate.edu)

CC President: Katherine Bergeron (president@conncoll.edu)

CC Trustees: Eduardo Castell (ecastell@mirramgroup.com), Jonathan Cohen (ir@ticc.com), Kenneth Kabel (sales@oakhillscarton.com), Eric Kaplan (ejk@upenn.edu)

 

For more information on continued anti-Semitism during the 2015-2016 academic year, see: http://www.investigativeproject.org/5183/connecticut-college-anti-semitism-continues-some

 

 



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