SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: October 01, 2017

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):Diablo Valley College

Region & Country:Americas | United States of America

New or Ongoing:New Incident

In October 2017, Diablo Valley College (DVC) professor Albert Ponce began receiving violent threats over Facebook, email, and voicemail, apparently in response to a public lecture he gave on race and politics in the US.

As part of a Social Justice Lecture Series organized on campus, Professor Ponce gave a talk titled, “White Supremacy and the United States of America,” during which he described racism and the founding of the US. Professor Ponce’s lecture was recorded, posted to Youtube, and reportedly went viral over the internet and with conservative media outlets. According to Professor Ponce, his personal information was posted to the internet (a tactic known as “doxxing”) and he began receiving violent threats over social media, email, and by telephone.

As recently as August 2018, Profesor Ponce continued to report receiving threats of violence against himself and his family

Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent threats against a scholar in apparent retaliation for the nonviolent exercise of the right to free expression and academic freedom. State and university authorities have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to protect the peaceful exercise of the rights to academic freedom and freedom of expression, to ensure the safety of scholars, and to investigate perpetrators of violent threats. Threats aimed at limiting freedom of expression undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.