CUNY Faculty Union on Kushner: "What, Me Worry?"

Mitchell Langbert

A controversy is raging concerning CUNY Trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld's objections to John Jay College's proposal to grant an honorary degree to playwright Tony Kushner. CUNY's board of trustees rejected Kushner after Wiesenfeld posed objections because of Kushner's outspoken anti-Israel views. Now, Chairman Benno C. Schmidt is rumored to favor rescinding the rescission and awarding the degree to Kushner after all.

I do not see the issue as one of free speech. In the first place, speech is not free in universities. Second, there is no right to an honorary degree.

On my blog I argue that universities are too ideologically biased to grant honorary degrees fairly. On cue, rumors are circulating that CUNY's far left faculty union is discussing an attempt to remove Wiesenfeld from the board. The reason: the union's insistence that Kushner's free speech rights were violated, and in doing so Wiesenfeld's speech was grounds for his firing.

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