Statement by President C. L. Max Nikias on proposed academic and cultural boycotts and sanctions against Israel and Israeli universities, and divestment of investments of certain firms involved in Israel

December 24, 2013

Over the past several years, the University of Southern California has been asked to join academic and cultural boycotts or other sanctions against Israel and/or Israeli universities, and to consider divestment of investments in firms that have certain business operations in Israel.

As I stated in December 2010 when our university took a strong stand against academic boycotts or similar actions directed against Israel, we continue to believe such actions would be a betrayal of our values as a pluralistic university whose students, faculty, and alumni come from more than 115 countries, and who represent a diversity of political, cultural and religious beliefs.

USC is deeply committed to providing the intellectual environment for cooperative and tolerant discourse, respecting the diversity of moral, political and religious views held by its members and working together to better understand the most challenging issues of our time.

Recently, USC was erroneously identified as an institutional member of the American Studies Association, an organization that calls for academic boycott of Israel. We confirmed with that organization that we are not currently a member and have requested they immediately remove any reference to the University of Southern California as an institutional member of that association.

USC supports the statement of the Association of American Universities that strongly opposes a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. We agree with the AAU that any such boycott directly violates academic freedom, which is a fundamental principle of AAU universities, including USC, and of American higher education in general.