May 15, 2019

Dear President Schlissel and Provost Philbert,

We heartily commend you for accepting the exceptionally thoughtful and thorough report and recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel that you appointed last fall, specifically the core statement of principle that “as faculty members make judgements and act in their role as teachers, they must do so based solely on educational and professional reasons,” as well as your commitment to establishing clearly defined procedures for handling challenges to the core statement.

While the panel was established in response to a particular incident regarding UM faculty members who, in compliance with an academic boycott of Israel, refused to write letters of recommendation forstudents wanting to study at a university-approved program in Israel, we are grateful that you framed the investigative question posed to the panel quite broadly, asking: “What ought to be the intersection between political thought/ideology and a faculty member’s responsibility to students?” As you clearly understood, refusing to write letters of recommendation for students is just one of many ways that faculty members can privilege their own personal politics over the welfare of their students, and by so doing, not only harm their students but undermine the academic mission of the university.

This becomes particularly evident when faculty members choose to implement an academic boycott of Israel, whose official guidelines call on faculty to not only refuse to write letters of recommendation for students wanting to study abroad in Israel but to work towards shutting down the study abroad programs altogether; to attempt to cancel faculty and student-organized educational events and activities about Israel on their own campuses; and to work towards scuttling research collaborations between U.S. faculty and students and Israeli scholars. Faculty who use their academic positions to implement an academic boycott of Israel, or to engage in any other type of ideologically-driven behavior, are impeding the educational rights of their students, blocking access to a body of knowledge critical for understanding a complex topic of global importance, and are in direct violation of UM’s new core statement of principles.

The adoption of this core statement of principles and your commitment to establishing explicit procedures for bringing forward concerns about faculty who violate it will make a significant and positive difference for the entire UM community. We hope that universities across the country will follow your lead and adopt their own version of this very important statement.


Academic Council for Israel
Academic Engagement Network
Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity (AEPi)
Alums for Campus Fairness – National
Alums for Campus Fairness – UC Riverside
Alums for Campus Fairness – UCLA
Alums for Campus Fairness – University of Michigan
AMCHA Initiative
American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists
American Council of Trustees and Alumni
American Institute for Jewish Research
American Jewish Congress
American Jewish International Relations Institute
American Truth Project
American Values
Americans Fighting Antisemitism
Americans for Peace and Tolerance
B’nai B’rith International
BEAR: Bias Education, Advocacy & Resources
Bobcats for Israel at Ohio University
Boston Israel Action Committee
Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law
Bulldogs for Israel (Brooklyn College)
California Association of Scholars
Campus Anti-Semitism Task Force of the North Shore
Center for Righteousness and Integrity
Christians and Jews United for Israel
Coalition for Jewish Values
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA)
Creative Community for Peace
CUFI on Campus
Dartmouth Students for Israel
Davis Faculty for Israel
Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET)
Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME)
Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors
Hasbara Fellowships
Herut North America, U.S. Division
Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel
Iranian American Jewish Federation
Iranian Jewish Women’s Organization
Israel Allies Foundation
Israel in NYC
Israel Matters
Israel Peace Initiative (IPI)
Israeli-American Civic Action Network
Israeli-American Civic Education Institute
Jewish American Affairs Committee of Indiana
Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA)
Legal Insurrection Foundation
Mercaz USA
Middle East Forum
Middle East Political and Information Network (MEPIN)
National Christian Leadership Conference
National Conference on Jewish Affairs
National Council of Young Israel
Nazareth College Hillel
North Carolina Coalition for Israel
Proclaiming Justice to the Nations
Rabbinical Alliance of America
Religious Zionists of America
Rhode Island Coalition for Israel
Russian Jewish Community Foundation
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
Simon Wiesenthal Center
Slugs for Israel (University of California Santa Cruz)
StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department
Stop Anti-Semitism Now
Stop BDS on Campus
Students and Parents Against Campus Anti-Semitism
Students Supporting Israel at Columbia
Students Supporting Israel at Drake University
Students Supporting Israel at San Jose State University
Students Supporting Israel at UCLA
Students Supporting Israel National
Swarthmore Alumni Against Antisemitism on Campus
The Israel Project
Tufts Friends of Israel
WoMen Fight Antisemitism
Young Jewish Conservatives
Zionist Organization of America
ZOA’s Fuel for Truth

Cc: Members of the Blue Ribbon Panel