What has not changed…

Posted November 10, 2016

Dear SAR colleagues,

Many network members, partners, and scholars have sent notes about the recent US presidential election expressing concern about possible changes in US policies and any impacts on SAR scholars and activities. I understand these concerns, and I am always grateful to hear from you, but I would ask us all to remember at this moment of uncertainty that our core mission and essence remain the same:

  • SAR is an international organization, not directly aligned with the changes in policy of any particular state. SAR, its members, and partners of course must observe the legal frameworks in place where they are located (e.g. immigration law), but SAR policies and values are reflective of international human rights and higher education principles. This has not changed.
  • SAR is a nonpartisan organization. Our protection, advocacy, and values-promotion activities are premised on the view that academic freedom and related higher education values are applicable to all higher education communities, and we stand ready to work with state, higher education, and civil society stakeholders everywhere, regardless of partisan affiliations, to promote these values. This has not changed.
  • SAR is fully committed to serving the urgent needs of scholars and other members of higher education communities facing violent, coercive, or other threats. This has not changed.
  • SAR has been experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of scholars seeking assistance, reflecting overall crisis-level attacks on higher education worldwide, as we noted in our recent Free to Think 2016 report.  There is an urgent need for SAR’s services and for continuing participation and support from network member institutions, partners, and donors. This has not changed.

It is too early to know what, if any, changes in US policies or rhetoric may impact our shared work in the future. For now, the US election serves to remind us that, as I have argued previously, the higher education community has a special role and responsibility to play in building and reinforcing democratic discourse and culture. I look forward to redoubling our efforts with all of you — and with new partners and communities — in meeting this responsibility today and in the years ahead.

Thank you for all your support,


Rob Quinn,
Executive Director

Location New York, NY, USA