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Columbia College in Chicago – Threatening Academic Freedom

Columbia College in Chicago – Threatening Academic Freedom

By on March 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

Respect Academic Freedom!  Petition:  ://www.change.org/petitions/llove-colum-edu-respect-academic-freedom#

I grew up in Chicago; and, I dreamed of attending Columbia College.  Known for it’s radio and journalism programs, Columbia was the ideal place for someone like me- with aspirations to become a news anchor or a journalist.  (I did neither, instead- spending many amazing years in corporate America and working my way through college- eventually graduating from DePaul University with a degree in liberal arts.)  My heart always ached for what I didn’t experience at Columbia- and so it’s bittersweet to witness them in the news once again- for disturbing anti-Muslim bias.  (Yes- this is not the first time they’ve made the news regarding anti-Arab / anti- Muslim controversy.)

This time, a popular class covering the Palestine / Israeli struggle has been the target.  You see- all it takes is for a student to use the word “bias” to school officials, and censorship is put in place.  This is an institution that is teaching students about integrity in journalism – yet – it is acting in an antithetical manner – censoring a class and a professor.

5 broken

Professor Iymen Chehade was showing the film, 5 Broken Cameras.  This is an OSCAR NOMINATED FILM directed by Palestinian Emad Burnat and Israeli Guy Davidi- which you can watch below, compliments of Electronic Resistance:


Here is a description of the film from Sundance Film Festival, 2012 archives:

5 Broken Cameras
Director: Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi
Screenwriters: Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi

Five broken cameras—and each one has a powerful tale to tell. Embedded in the bullet-ridden remains of digital technology is the story of Emad Burnat, a farmer from the Palestinian village of Bil’in, which famously chose nonviolent resistance when the Israeli army encroached upon its land to make room for Jewish colonists. Emad buys his first camera in 2005 to document the birth of his fourth son, Gibreel. Over the course of the film, he becomes the peaceful archivist of an escalating struggle as olive trees are bulldozed, lives are lost, and a wall is built to segregate burgeoning Israeli settlements.

Gibreel’s loss of innocence and the destruction of each camera are potent metaphors in a deeply personal documentary that vividly portrays a conflict many of us think we know. Emad Burnat, a Palestinian, joins forces with Guy Davidi, an Israeli, and—from the wreckage of five broken cameras—two filmmakers create one extraordinary work of art.

— D.C.

This comes down to academic freedom and freedom of speech.  Columbia’s Academic Affairs Vision and Values come into question.  From their website:

The Office of Academic Affairs is a robust hive of activity where we cultivate ideas, solve problems, and create opportunities for learning at Columbia College Chicago.

Integrity is a cornerstone of our work; we strive to put our values into action. Above all else Academic Affairs values learning and the processes that make learning possible. Therefore, we value:

We learn from our successes, near-misses and failures. We do better each time.
We go beyond the day-to-day, exploring new ideas and trying new things. We are trail blazers.
We know that by engaging with others we produce results that surpass what we can accomplish in isolation. We work and play well with others.
We are transparent in our decision-making processes. We have nothing to hide.

I take issues with these value statements.

-Cultivating ideas can now be replaced with : censoring ideas


-Integrity can now be replaced with: violating academic freedoms

-Reflection and learning from our failures is obviously still a work-in-progress

-Trail Blazers?  In this case- no they are not.  They are standing against Academic Freedom on American soil.

A situation where a professor’s academic freedom is flagrantly violated does not go unnoticed. The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has come to the defense of the instructor and has written a letter to the University asking them to reinstate his class fully- and also – to reevaluate their policy of investigating student complaints.  There is also a petition you can sign at the top of this blog.

 “Without Freedom of Thought There Can be No Such Thing as Wisdom & No Such Thing as Public Liberty Without Freedom of Speech.” ~Benjamin Franklin


About the Author

About the Author: I'm a Writer and Muslim Activist. I'm also a Board Member of the #MyJihad Public Education Campaign. Follow my blog at yasminareality.com or follow me on Twitter: @yasmina_reality. I'm also now on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YasminaReality Peace! .

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