Defending Academic Freedom at CUNY

Below you’ll find a letter about the most recent violation of academic freedom at the City University of New York. Please read, click the link, and sign the petition. Thank you.

Dear friends,

I wanted to alert you to a troubling violation of academic freedom here at the City University of New York.

Just a week before the start of spring semester classes, Kristofer Petersen-Overton was fired from his position as an adjunct lecturer of political science at Brooklyn College. The move came following a complaint from a prospective student in Peterson-Overton’s scheduled Middle East Politics course that the instructor’s “pro-Palestinian” bias would preclude him from objectively teaching the subject.  After complaining to the school administration the student then contacted New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who in turn wrote to the president of Brooklyn College expressing his concerns about the course reading list.  In that letter, Hikind labeled Peterson-Overton as “pro-suicide bomber.”  Hours later, the provost of Brooklyn College dismissed Petersen-Overton on grounds that, as a doctoral student, he was insufficiently qualified to teach graduate courses at the college. This move came despite the fact that many graduate students in several departments currently teach and have taught master’s level courses at Brooklyn College over the years. Given these circumstances, it is clear that Peterson-Overton’s dismissal had nothing to do with his qualifications, but was the product of political pressure from forces outside the university.

The editors of the GC Advocate have put together an online petition in defense of our colleague and academic freedom more broadly.  We would appreciate your signature and support in this matter, and encourage you to share this widely with your friends and associates.  It can be accessed at:

Thank you in advance for your time and attention to this matter.  Together, we can help defend freedom of expression in higher education.

On behalf of the editorial team at the Advocate, I send you my best regards.

Michael Busch

Managing Editor, The GC Advocate

The Graduate Center, The City University of New York

365 Fifth Avenue, Room 5396

New York, NY 10016-4309


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