Letters and Statements from the Board

A Call to Higher Education Administrators Regarding Student Educational Progress During COVID-19

MESA has cosigned the American Sociological Association's statement asking institutions of higher education to be flexible with requirements and policies for students. We as scholarly societies encourage colleges and universities to offer all appropriate accommodations to students, given the uncertainty and stress caused by the unparalleled disruptions to our educational community.

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MESA Intervention Concerning Academic Insecurity Caused by SARS-CoV-2

MESA calls on academic institutions to protect both the labor rights and the academic freedom of students and scholars of the Middle East, particularly the most vulnerable among us, during the great uncertainty and new dangers caused by the lockdown and the shift to online teaching. Institutes of higher education need to develop policies that prioritize the intellectual rights and the internet security of faculty and students.

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Statement on COVID-19 and Academic Labor

MESA has cosigned MLA's statement regarding academic labor and COVID-19, urging flexibility and empathy among faculty, students, and staff at institutions of higher education, including not only material support but also ethical imagination and commitment from academic institutes to both the individual and shared challenges facing our communities during this unprecedented pandemic.

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Review and Reappointment Processes For Tenure Line and Contingent Faculty During the COVID-19 Crisis

The Middle East Studies Association (MESA), in collaboration with scholarly societies led by the American Sociological Association (ASA), commends institutions of higher education for quickly taking steps to deal with the COVID-19 crisis and encourages all universities and colleges to consider appropriate temporary adjustments to their review and reappointment processes for tenure line and contingent faculty.

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MESA Board letter to Durham University concerning BRISMES

The Board of Directors has issued an open letter to Durham University regarding the Vice Chancellor's decision to withdraw administrative services from the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES), following the society’s vote on a resolution in favor of supporting the academic boycott of Israel last year. MESA is gravely concerned over the implications for academic freedom and freedom of expression over controversial issues — not only for our colleagues engaged in Middle East studies in Britain, but also for British academia more broadly.

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Open letter to the SGDSN concerning archival declassification in France

MESA joins 16 other associations from across the globe in concern for the recent policy changes by the Secrétariat général de la défense et de la sécurité nationale (SGDSN), imposing limitations on access to documents from 1940 to present, which includes all those held at the French Ministry of Defense Archives at Vincennes, and the possible extension to other archives with previously classified documents.

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Joint Statement on Department of Education Office for Civil Rights Investigations into NYU and UCLA

The Middle East Studies Association is joined by seven fellow associations of the American Council of Learned Societies in deep concern over the continued politicization of the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights and the threat that its ongoing investigations into New York University and the University of California, Los Angeles represents to academic freedom. Political speech is and must remain constitutionally protected in the United States, and should not be conflated with bigotry for partisan political purposes. We condemn racism in all forms, and oppose in the strongest possible terms any form of discrimination against or harassment of Jewish students. The government's instrumentalization and abuse of the issue of anti-Semitism is an unwelcome intrusion at our institutions of higher education, intending to intimidate faculty and police political debates on campuses.

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House Committee on Education and Labor expresses concern and requests information from the DoE regarding Duke-UNC Consortium investigation

House Committee on Education and Labor requests documents and further information from the Department of Education and expresses deep concern over the implications for academic freedom of its public threats to the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies over its Title VI funding as a National Resource Center for area studies.

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18 major scholarly societies join MESA in expressing concern about the Department of Education’s interpretation of Title VI

MESA and 18 other academic associations, representing over 100,000 concerned members, issue letter in response to allegations made by the DoE against the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies, calling attention to the overly narrow and partisan conception of international studies contained in the letter, and pointing to past successes of Title VI programs in educating students and training experts with the needed depth and breadth in languages and regional and international studies.

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MESA endorses the Statement from AHA on Domestic Terrorism, Bigotry, and History

MESA has endorsed the Statement from AHA on Domestic Terrorism, Bigotry, and History. The AHA expects the statement to “stimulate more questions than answers, with hopes these questions make their way into classrooms, libraries, museums, city council meetings, community centers, and even coffee shops, wherever people are trying to connect with each other to make historical sense of our current moment.”

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    Turkish Court rules in favor of academics’ rights who signed Peace Petition

    In a narrow vote (8-8 with the Chief Justice casting a tie breaking vote) the Turkish Constitutional Court found that the rights of the Peace Petitioners had been violated. The decision should have precedential effect that will impact all the trials of petition signatories, bringing great relief to hundreds of Turkish academics. MESA’s joint letter of 24 July 2019 to the Constitutional Court of Turkey expressed support of the signatories’ rights to freedom of expression and assembly. MESA’s Committee on Academic Freedom has written numerous letters regarding the persecution of the Peace Petition signatories.

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    MESA Statement on the mass execution and continuing suppression of free speech in Saudi Arabia

    MESA deplores the most recent mass execution of 37 detainees in Saudi Arabia on 23 April 2019. It has noted with deep concern that among those executed were an academic and at least one student.  

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