Profs chastise school leaders for canceling anti-Israel art exhibit, cite ‘academic freedom’ concerns

Faculty members criticized the university administration for, among other measures, canceling an anti-Israel art exhibit.

The school leaders' other alleged infractions include trying to separate from the school a controversial institute that researches ‘sexuality, gender, and reproduction.’

University logo taken from X account of IU Bloomington.

On April 16, faculty at Indiana University - Bloomington overwhelmingly passed a vote of no confidence in university leadership, citing leaders’ supposed failure to stand up for “academic freedom.” 

The critics of the university’s administration claimed that the “current IU administration is encroaching on both academic freedom and shared governance by, among other things, sanctioning faculty and by canceling art exhibits at the Eskenazi Museum.”

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The latter accusation refers to IU canceling an art exhibit by a Palestinian-American artist that included at least one anti-Israel work this February, several months after the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre of Jewish civilians in Israel. 

Other complaints included the university’s failed attempt to separate a controversial institute focused on studying “sexuality, gender, and reproduction” from the main university. 

The faculty also blamed university leadership for its alleged “failure to proactively and effectively stand against the Indiana legislature’s violations of academic freedom and faculty protections.”

The votes of no confidence passed by overwhelming margins: 827-29 against IU President Pamela Whitten, 804-47 against Provost Rahul Shrivastav, and 672-107 against Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs Carrie Docherty. 

In the discussion during the votes, one critic of the IU administration alleged: “It’s very difficult to recruit graduate students here. It’s difficult when they look at you in the face and say, ‘Am I going to be safe because I’m transgender? Am I going to be safe as a woman? Am I going to be safe as a Black person or a Latinx person or an indigenous person?’”

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The university leadership had some supporters, with one professor stating that Whitten “deserves a chance to establish her leadership abilities,” adding: “But in truth, all the current administrators deserve such a chance.”

Whitten struck a conciliatory tone in her response, promising to “weigh the guidance from faculty council and the participation of the campus community.” The school’s Chair of the Board of Trustees, W. Quinn Buckner, has also expressed the Board’s confidence in and support for Whitten. 

Campus Reform has contacted Indiana University for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.