On November 7, 2022, the administration of the Tehran University of Art placed a “large number” of students who had boycotted their classes on academic probation for one semester.
The students had boycotted their classes in protest of state repression. They received a grade of zero in all their courses because of the boycott, leading to their academic probation.
The university’s chancellor, Mohammad Reza Hosanaee, publicly defended the decision to fail and suspend the students and warned of future sanctions against both students and academic staff should they not attend classes.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about a higher education institution suspending students in apparent retaliation for exercising their right to freedom of expression. While higher education officials have a right to enforce academic policies to ensure student success, they should respect scholars’ exercise of such rights and refrain from disciplinary actions that punish or deter nonviolent expressive activity. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, disciplinary actions intended to deter or punish support for student protests on campus undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.