Academic Freedom Media Review

July 07 – 13, 2018

Scholars at Risk monitors reports of threats to academic freedom and higher education communities worldwide, including media articles, blogs, opinion pieces and other announcements.  Scholars at Risk identifies situations of concern on its own and welcomes reports submitted by faculty, students and volunteers at participating higher education institutions.

Unless otherwise indicated (such as in articles written by SAR), the language and views contained in the reports below reflect those of the originating author and/or publication and do not necessarily represent the views of Scholars at Risk or its members, affiliates, board or staff. Subscribe to SAR’s media review.

Universities’ alliance to fight ‘political interference’
Mimi Leung, University World News, 07/12
More than a dozen universities in Taiwan have set up a new alliance for university autonomy to counter what they see as ‘political interference’ in universities in the wake of the ongoing saga of the appointment of a new president for National Taiwan University (NTU). Without academic freedom and institutional autonomy Taiwan would not be able to attract foreign talent, according to a former NTU president Lee Si-Chen who is leading the 14-member Taiwan Action Alliance for University Autonomy, inaugurated on 6 July. Read more.

Her husband was a Princeton graduate student. Then he was taken prisoner in Iran.
Laura Secor, New York Times, 07/10
Xiyue Wang could easily never have gone to Iran. He was a graduate student at Princeton, researching similarities across regional governments in 19th-century inner Asia. His work touched on neither the United States’ Iran policy nor any Iranian political reality less than a hundred years old. Read more.

Liu Xia, widow of Chinese dissident poet, freed from house arrest, leaves China
Danielle Paquette and Emily Rauhala, Washington Post, 07/10
After eight years of de facto house arrest, the widow of a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who died last year in Chinese custody boarded her flight to freedom. Liu Xia, a poet, was relentlessly surveilled and effectively detained after the death of her husband, writer and activist Liu Xiaobo, on July 13 of last year. But on Tuesday, she was on her way to Germany. Read more.

Divided Wisconsin Supreme Court backs Marquette faculty blogger
Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, 07/10
Marquette University must immediately reinstate and pay damages to John McAdams, the political science professor who criticized a graduate student by name on his personal blog over how she handled a classroom discussion that turned to gay marriage. So ruled the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday, overturning a lower court’s determination that Marquette was within its rights to suspend McAdams over the incident in 2014. Read more.

Aberdeen University academic arrested in Turkey for criticising government
Ahval, 07/09
A Turkish lawyer who holds a PhD from Scotland’s Aberdeen University, was arrested on July 5 by police in Istanbul for speaking out against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on social media, Scottish newspaper Press and Journal reported. Hanifi Baris could be put behind bars for up to four years for speaking out against Turkey’s strongman, the site said. Read more.

Scholars decry arrest of Ph.D. student in Egypt
Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, 07/09
The Middle East Studies Association has sent a letter to Egyptian authorities protesting the detention and arrest in Cairo of Waleed Khalil el-Sayed Salem, a University of Washington Ph.D. student. The association’s letter states that Salem was conducting important research at the time on the interaction of judges and lawyers in Egypt. “Mr. Salem is a young scholar, but he has already established a reputation among those who know him for the serious and scholarly nature of his work,” the letter said. Read more.

Yangon University authorities quash July 7 poster campaign
Ei Shwe Phyu, Myanmar Times, 07/09
A poster campaign aimed at commemorating the violent suppression of a student movement by the military at Yangon University on July 7, 1962, has been prohibited by university authorities. The attempt to stage the campaign was made last Friday at the Physics Department of the university, where students tried to hang posters reading “Don’t Forget 7.7.62”, organised by the Yangon University Students’ Union (YUSU). Read more.

The campaign for prisoners of conscience: A call to action
Randy Hultgren and James McGovern, The Hill, 07/06*
Every day, millions of Americans enjoy freedoms that are under attack in countries around the world. As we see more journalists and activists imprisoned and tortured, religious minorities persecuted and political dissidents suppressed every year, now is the moment for the United States to stand up for these human rights and democratic principles when they are threatened abroad. Read more.

*Not featured in the July 6th edition of the Academic Freedom Media Review.