State governments in New York, Maryland, and Illinois have introduced legislation that would deny or reduce state funding to universities that contribute funding to academic entities that advocate for or engage in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, and we expect more state legislation to emerge. Take action today on three key state fights against state legislation in New York, Maryland, and Illinois. If you don't live in these states, please ask family and friends who do to make the calls and write letters!
New York legislation:
On February 3, after tremendous opposition, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was forced to withdraw a bill that would withhold state aid for an academic year to any New York college or university that used state funds on groups that support boycotts of Israel. Our work to defeat this legislation is not over! Speaker Silver has introduced a revised version of his bill, titled A. 8392A. In the new version, the college would only lose the amount of money actually spent on such activities. Modifying the amount of punishment does not cure the bill’s constitutional infirmities. Free speech rights on campus are still being threatened.
If you are a NY state resident:
Contact Assembly Speaker Silver
- Call, email fax or use any other method to contact Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. District Office phone 212-312-1420, Albany Office phone 518-455-3791, to send an emailclick here.
Contact the Higher Education Committee of the NY State Assembly
- Contact as many of the other members of the Higher Education Committee as you can.Click here for the list of committee members, which includes links to each of their websites.
- Contact the chair of the Higher Education Committee, Deborah Glick. To send an email to her office, just click here. Her office numbers are Albany Office phone 518-455-4841, District Office phone 212-674-5153.
Hearings on the bills to restrict academic freedom will be heard before two committees, one in the Senate on Wednesday, March 5 and the other in the House of Delegates on Thursday March 6. These bills would reduce funding to public universities as a penalty for reimbursing faculty's participation in professional organizations with which Maryland legislators politically disagree. This is a dangerous precedent.
If you are a Maryland resident: please call, write or email your members of the state legislature and tell them you want them to oppose Senate Bill 647 or House Bill 998. Click here to find your delegates and senator.
If you live in Maryland, you can also attend the hearings to directly express your concern with the bill:
- The Senate hearing will start at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 5, at 3 West, Miller Senate Building, 11 Bladen Street, Annapolis (Senate Budget and Taxation Committee).
- The Thursday March 6 House hearing will begin at 1:00 p.m. in Room 121, House Office Building, 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis (House Appropriations Committee).
Immediate Action Needed: Stop Passage of Bill in IL State Legislature Threatening to Defund Public Universities because of Faculty Political Speech
IL State Senator Ira Silverstein has introduced a bill - SB 3017 - that would prohibit public universities and colleges from using any state funds on groups that have made statements in support of, or that participate in boycotts of Israeli academic institutions. Universities that do so would lose all of their state funding for that year. For instance, state aid could not be used for travel, lodging or membership dues for a faculty member attending the conference of an academic association that made a statement in support of a boycott of Israel. This law will lay the groundwork for other attempts to silence debate and opposition on other controversial issues.
Things in the IL legislature are moving quickly. The Higher Education Committee of the State Senate will hold a hearing on this bill as early as Tuesday March 4, 2014. Even though time is short, we need to make sure the members of that committee hear from as many people as possible.
Now is the time for action! This assault on free speech and academic freedom must be stopped today!
If you live in Illinois:
1) Contact your State Senators that are members of the Higher Education Committee. See a list of Committee members’ contact information and talking points below.
· If you don’t know your State Senator, click here and type in your address to find out.
· If you can make more calls, see number 2.
2) If your State Senator is not in the Higher Education Committee, contact, in this order:
· FIRST: State Senate President, John Cullerton (D). CALL (217) 782-2728.
· SECOND: Chairman of the Higher Education Committee, Senator Michael W. Frerichs (D). CALL (217) 782-2507.
3) Help spread the word!
· Share this message as widely and as quickly as you can!
· Try to get this information to people throughout the state. It’s important that this be a state-wide effort.
· Send a letter to the editor in your local paper to express your opposition to this legislation.
TELL STATE SENATORS:
- I am calling to oppose the Higher Education Committee Amendment 1 to Senate Bill 3017.
- This amendment proposes that the legislature defund an Illinois state university which provides funds for membership, travel or lodging for any employee to attend activities of an academic entity which has issued a public resolution or statement supporting boycotting a country which is a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) or higher education institutions in that country.
- This bill is unconstitutional because the Supreme Court has ruled that boycotts are protected First Amendment activities.
- The State cannot deny funding to universities because certain legislators don’t like the views that faculty and staff are expressing through protected First Amendment activities like boycotts.
- Legislative intrusion in academic decision-making undermines academics’ abilities to associate and exchange views with their colleagues.
- It is fiscally irresponsible and unconstitutional to condition funding for the Illinois university system on the university’s censorship of academic associations’ political viewpoints.