May 2, 2019
Dr. Mark S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D.
President University of Michigan 2074 Fleming Administration Building 503 Thompson Street Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1340
The Regents of the University of Michigan 500 South State Street Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109
Dear President Schlissel and Honorable Members of University of Michigan Board of Regents,
I last wrote to you on November 1, 2018, about your plans to convene a panel to review university policies on letters of recommendation. Today I write to commend your administration for adopting the recommendation in the Blue Ribbon Panel Report, stating that faculty may not “help students pursue future educational and professional opportunities because they politically approve of the students’ aspirations, or refuse to help because they politically disapprove.” By reaching this conclusion, this report is a model for all universities struggling with the discriminatory and antisemitic activist agenda of the BDS movement.
As you note in the report, faculty members may mention their political views in the classroom and be politically active in their personal and professional lives; what they may not be is biased against students due to these views. Your adoption of the report clearly conveys that letters of recommendation are to be guided by educational and professional standards. It also makes clear that a student’s right to pursue educational opportunities should be protected from professors’ political biases. We commend you for extending these new guidelines to graduate students who teach undergraduates. Finally, we thank your administration for indicating to the entire campus community that discriminatory actions fueled by personal politics have no place at the university and will be met with serious consequences.
On behalf of StandWithUs, an international, non-profit, Israel education organization dedicated to educating people of all ages and backgrounds about Israel and to combating the antisemitism and extremism that often distort the issues surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict, I thank you for your moral clarity and leadership throughout this process. Moving forward, I hope that university leaders nationwide use these guidelines to combat faculty discriminatory conduct and to empower students to advance academically and professionally.
Director, StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department