Social Text Condemns New York State Assembly's Attack on Free Speech

The Social Text Collective strongly opposes New York State Assembly Bill 8392. This pending legislation would prohibit colleges and universities in New York State from using state funding to support employees’ participation in academic groups or associations that have passed resolutions or taken official actions to promote boycotts against certain countries or their higher education institutions. We believe that A.8392 is unconstitutional, threatens academic freedom, and constitutes a blatant attempt to prevent concerned citizens from using a non-violent tool designed to promote progressive social change, a tool that has been crucial in previous historical struggles for change such as the US Civil Rights movement and the fight against apartheid in South Africa. As a collective, we urge lawmakers to recognize that denying state aid based on such protected speech violates the First Amendment, threatens academic freedom, and violates the right of citizens to engage in lawful, nonviolent civil protest.

In opposing this wrongheaded legislation, we join our voices with the American Association of University Professors, The Professional Staff Congress, NYSUT, the City University Faculty Senate Executive Committee, the New York State AAUP Conference and the New York University AAUP chapter. We urge allies to contact New York State legislators to insist that they refuse to pass New York Assembly Bill A.8392.

Ashley Dawson

Ashley Dawson is professor of postcolonial studies in the English department at the Graduate Center, City University of New York and the College of Staten Island. His latest books include People’s Power: Reclaiming the Energy Commons (O/R, 2020), Extreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change (Verso, 2017), and Extinction: A Radical History (O/R, 2016). A member of the Social Text Collective and the founder of the CUNY Climate Action Lab, he is a long-time climate justice activist.