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, a professor of English at the Graduate Center/CUNY and the College of Staten Island, is a scholar of postcolonial studies and a climate justice activist. He is the author of two recent books on topics relating to the environmental issues, 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), as well as many other books on topics relating to migration, global justice, and cultural struggles. He is currently completing a book on energy democracy and just transition entitled The Energy Common.