In my role as the President of Vassar College, I very much value academic freedom and the open exchange of ideas. We do not all need to agree on every issue, and, in fact, true learning occurs when we hear viewpoints different from our own. The truth is equally important, however. One of Vassar’s earliest faculty members, Maria Mitchell taught that the way one finds truth is to “go to the source.” I would like to correct some of the statements made about me and about Vassar in the opinion piece entitled “Israel Apartheid Week highlights Palestinian oppression” (The Miscellany News, “Israel Apartheid Week highlights Palestinian oppression,” 04.04.2019).
In the summer of 2018, I traveled to Jordan, Israel and Ramallah to better understand their models of higher education, particularly in the liberal arts. I met with the leadership of Palestinian and Israeli universities, and in Jordan I met with the leadership of a high school that teaches liberal arts.
In addition, as a public health scholar, I was eager to meet with key health leaders throughout the region. I was also able to host a Vassar alumnae/i event, which is something I do throughout my travels. I also met with dozens of other people from the region, including Israeli and Palestinian students, educational and human rights advocates and local leaders, including Israel Nitzan, who was the incoming Deputy Counsel General and was to begin his work in New York City in fall of 2018. I had never traveled to the region before and welcomed learning as much as I could from them. It was a rewarding experience for me, and one that is helping me in my work here.
Vassar will continue to connect and work with a diversity of academics—Israelis, Palestinians and others across the world—in order to provide our students the best educational opportunities, and I am pleased that Vassar is a place where we can use our knowledge to openly debate and discuss all kinds of topics.
Elizabeth H. Bradley,