UCLA Student Council Passes Resolution on Turkish Chair

Editor’s Note: The University of California at Los Angeles Undergraduate Student Association Council–the institution’s main undergraduate student government board–passed a resolution Monday evening–declaring its solidarity with the Armenian Students Association on the issue of $1 million endowment by the government of Turkey for the establishment of a Ottoman and Turkish studies chair.

The text of the resolution follows.

Whereas–during the last three years–throughout the United States–the Turkish government has funded six endowed chairs in American Universities and are now proposing to give UCLA $1 million for an endowed chair in Ottoman and Turkish Studies; and

Whereas–Nuzhet Kandemir–Turkey’s Ambassador to the United States–has personally given a down payment in the amount of $250,000 to Irene Bierman–Director of the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies–for the purposes of an endowed chair in Ottoman and Turkish Studies; and

Whereas–the events leading up to this transaction were undisclosed to the faculty members of the History Department; and

Whereas–the founding of endowed chairs by the Turkish government in American universities has been heavily criticized by noted intellectuals and genocide scholars (i.e. Norman Mailer–Susan Sontag–Kurt Vonnegut–Henry Louis Gates Jr.–Deborah Lipstandt–Yehuda Bauer–and Israel Charny)–who signed a petition entitled "Taking a Stand Against the Turkish Government’s denial of the Armenian Genocide and Scholarly Corruption in the Academy," which appeared in the February 2–1996 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education; and

Whereas– the Turkish government’s ongoing policy of campus intervention resulted in the disruption of an academic conference on historic Armenian cities and provinces at UCLA in May 1997 in which at the request of the Turkish Embassy–the US state Department insisted on heavy security–including the presence of police in the conference hall–metal detectors–and handbag searches; and

Whereas–Ambassador Kandemir–who repeatedly denies any Turkish government involvement in the Armenian Genocide committed in 1915–is at the forefront of an annual $3 million campaign orchestrated with the aid of Washington public relations firms to deny the Armenian Genocide; and

Whereas–the Turkish Embassy has made stipulations concerning the proposed $1 million endowment–including that the appointee to the chair must be required to conduct research in the Ottoman archives in the which access is controlled by the Turkish Government–and denied to those who are critical of the Turkish history and/or current human rights policies; and

Whereas–the aforementioned stipulations on the proposed Ottoman and Turkish Studies endowed Chair run contrary to the intellectual practices of UCLA and the University of California–as well as threaten the academic integrity of UCLA and our freedom to learn and do research without the political interference of a foreign government; and

Whereas–UCLA’s approval of the proposed Ottoman and Turkish Studies endowed Chair funded by the government of Turkey would raise serious questions about its independence and commitment to scholarship and academic integrity;

Be it Resolved by ASUCLA Undergraduate Students Association Council (USAC) that the USAC stands in solidarity with the UCLA Armenian Students Association in opposing the proposed Ottoman and Turkish Studies endowed Chair paid for by the government of Turkey; and

Be it Further Resolved that the USAC calls on the UCLA administration and the UCLA Academic Senate to take steps to insure and protect the academic integrity of UCLA by carefully examining the process by which endowed chairs are funded and approved; and

Be it Finally Resolved that the USAC will send a letter expressing its opposition and concerns regarding the proposed Ottoman and Turkish Studies endowed Chair to the UCLA History Department–the UCLA Academic Senate–the UCLA Chancellor–the UC Board of Regents and the Governor of the State of California.

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