Following the denial of visas to two tenured NYU faculty members who were scheduled to teach at NYU Abu Dhabi in 2017-18, members of the the Faculty Committee on the Global Network issued a statement that included "a set of principles relevant to the broader questions of mobility in the university's global network," as well as a series of recommendations that it believes will improve the university's processes and procedures. President Hamilton's reply and the Committee's statement are below.?
For context and background information, please see this FAQ on global mobility.
Dear Members of the Faculty Committee on NYU’s Global Network,
First, please allow me to extend my gratitude to the committee for your thoughtful statement on mobility in NYU’s global network.
As I have written and stated before, including at a University Senate meeting last fall, NYU strongly believes academic freedom and free movement of people and ideas – within NYU’s global network and beyond – are indeed, as the committee states, key to our goals of “international scholarly collaboration, learning, and advancement of knowledge.” And since the committee asked that I reiterate my view on our two faculty members who were denied entry to the UAE last year, please let there be no doubt: It is unimaginable to me that either would pose a security threat based upon their writing and scholarship.
Regarding the committee’s specific recommendations, while there are clearly details that need to be worked out, we broadly agree with all of them, and in fact, have already been working to implement several of them, and will move expeditiously to address the other items you have raised as well.
I have asked that Josh Taylor, who has worked on the global mobility report for several years now, and is also actively engaged in the broader issues of immigration and mobility, to develop a clear set of protocols that will be readily available to members of the NYU community. These will address the issues you raised, including visa application procedures and appeal processes, communications between schools and visa applicants, and the University’s annual global mobility report. He will soon be reaching out to the committee to discuss these and related issues, and it is my expectation that we will have new protocols finalized and implemented by the end of this semester, if not earlier.
Please don’t hesitate to be in touch with me – or Josh, who is copied here – should you have any questions or concerns, and once again, thank you for your commitment to these critical issues.
As everyone surely knows by now, two tenured faculty members from the NYU Faculty of Arts and Science in New York were invited to teach at NYUAD, but subsequently denied entry to Abu Dhabi: Arang Keshavarzian (Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies) and Mohamad Bazzi (Journalism). Both professors were denied security clearance and a work visa to teach at NYUAD.
After Professor Bazzi published an op-ed about his experience in the New York Times, President Andrew Hamilton issued a public statement, the Middle Eastern Studies Association (MESA) issued a letter to President Hamilton and to UAE authorities, and NYU’s Department of Journalism and the Gallatin School declared that they “call on NYU faculty based in New York to consider refraining from teaching or participating in academic events at NYU Abu Dhabi until such time as all NYU faculty and students are free to do so.” President Hamilton responded to the Journalism Department’s resolution, and the university issued an FAQ on Global Mobility. In addition, both students and faculty have weighed in on this matter and the story has been covered by numerous media outlets.1
As a faculty body devoted entirely to academic matters related to NYU’s global operations, the Faculty Committee on the Global Network endeavored to learn as much as possible about this case in order to make recommendations.
To that end, the Co-Chairs Eliot Borenstein (NYUNY) and Martin Klimke (NYUAD) invited Professor Bazzi and Professor Keshavarzian to share their stories and their concerns with the committee, and reached out to the leadership and faculty at NYUAD, as well as the offices of Provost Katherine Fleming and NYU President Andrew Hamilton, to gather respective information.
Before turning to the case itself, the Committee would like to affirm a set of principles that are relevant to the broader questions of mobility in the university’s global network:
Having said this, the Committee would like to ask the university leadership to publicly and unequivocally reaffirm its commitment to the global mobility and academic freedom of all of its members across the various portals and sites as one of the fundamental principles of its concept of the university’s global network and engagement, as well as international scholarly collaboration, learning, and advancement of knowledge. The Committee also asks that President Hamilton use the same public forum to confirm his rejection of any designation of the two faculty members as a “security risk” (as he did in his letter to MEIS).
Furthermore, there are a number of aspects about the current case that suggest the need for greater transparency and clarity about the opportunities and limits in the operation of the university’s global network:
The committee believes that the existing framework of the university’s global network needs to be used more actively to address and counterbalance structural inequities in terms of access and mobility for the members of the NYU community and recommends the creation of a flexible system to address challenges to global mobility.
The committee is very cognizant of the sensitivities involved in international circulation of faculty, staff and students. Nonetheless, it urges greater transparency from the NYU administration about the challenges to global mobility and the university’s efforts to meet them.
Most importantly, the committee believes that there must be transparent protocols for visa/clearance applications to all the sites and portals in the university’s global network, and that these protocols must be public knowledge.
The committee is happy to serve as a platform for faculty to reach out to and discuss such protocols as well as foster an ongoing debate about the state of NYU’s global network on a regular basis (e.g. via an annual faculty town hall).
The committee hopes that by fostering a realistic discussion and greater awareness of both the limits and opportunities of the university’s global network, NYU will be in a better position to navigate the complexities of global connectivity and reap its benefits.
The Faculty Committee on the Global Network
Co-Chairs: Eliot Borenstein, FAS and Martin Klimke, NYU Abu Dhabi
Sylvain Cappell, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences / Tenured/Tenure-Track Faculty Senators Council
Una Chaudhuri, FAS and Tisch
Lindsay Davies, Undergraduate Academic Affairs Committee (Liberal Studies)
Chris Dickey, College of Global Public Health
Billie Gastic, School of Professional Studies
Alexander Geppert, NYU Shanghai
Guido Gerig, Tandon School of Engineering
Brendan Hogan, Liberal Studies
Sam Howard-Spink, Continuing Contract Faculty Senators Council (Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development)
Dale Hudson, NYU Abu Dhabi
Kristie Koenig, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development Rachel Law, Student Senators Council
Heather Lee, Assistant Professor, NYU Shanghai
1These include, among others: https://www.nyunews.com/2017/11/06/show-solidarity-divest-nyuad/; https://www.nyunews.com/2017/11/08/an-alternative-view-on-nyuad/; https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/10/opinion/nyu-abu-dhabi.html; http://oncenturyavenue.org/2017/11/response-to-recent-nyu-abu-dhabi-controversy/; https://www.thegazelle.org/issue/124/opinion/breaking-news-nyuad-cuts-ties-with-ny-campus-becomes-uad; https://as.nyu.edu/content/nyu-as/as/research-centers/neareaststudies/about/from-the-director.html; https://www.thenation.com/article/the-limits-of-the-global-network-university-an-open-letter/