University rescinds decision to honor Hirsi Ali
After a torrent of public outrage from the greater Brandeis community, University administration has rescinded the offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a controversial political and women's rights activist, due to statements that she has made publically that criticize Islam.
A press release from the administration, published by BrandeisNOW on the evening of Tuesday, April 8, said that while Hirsi Ali "is a compelling public figure and advocate for women's rights ... we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University's core values." The press release added that the University "regret[s]" that it was "not aware of these statements earlier."
The press release stated in conclusion that Hirsi Ali is "welcome to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues," but that the commencement ceremony was not the appropriate forum for said discussion.
The announcement of the rescindment came after both faculty and student community members voiced outrage over Hirsi Ali receiving an honorary degree. Some community members were uncomfortable with her anti-Islamic views. Prof. Jytte Klausen (POL) wrote in an email to the Justice that she believed giving Hirsi Ali a degree would "[undermine] years of careful work to show that Brandeis University promotes the ideals of shared learning, religious toleration, and coexistence, irrespective of religion."
A petition on Change.org, started by Sarah Fahmy '14, was one of the main forums used by students to voice their concerns. As of this press release, the petition had garnered over 6,800 signatures calling for the rescinding of the offer. Faculty members also signed and sent a letter to University President Frederick Lawrence protesting the offer to Hirsi Ali and calling for an immediate rescinding of it, which garnered over 75 signatures as of Monday evening.