GLENDALE–Citing recent statemen’s by members of Congress and a protest march by Portland area public high school students as evidence of growing opposition to Turkey’s efforts to manipulate the academic community–the Armenia National Committee of America-Western Region–on Thursday–reaffirmed its commitment to education administrators and academicians at Portland State University and the University of California–Berkeley about the threat to the academic integrity posed by Turkey’s offer to establish a chair of Turkish Studies.
Portland–Oregon High School Students March in Protest Over Turkish Funding of Chair at PSU Members of the Amnesty International Club of Grant High School in Northeast Portland–marched nearly four miles last week to Portland State University to raise public awareness of Turkey’s human rights violations and demonstrate their opposition to the acceptance of Turkish government money to establish a Turkish Academic Chair at PSU. The march–which attracted the attention of local television–radio and print media–illustrated the growing concern of Portland area citizens over PSU’s acceptance of money from the Turkish government and the negative impact it may have on academic freedom at the school.
Reliable reports from inside PSU indicated that the university has initiated a fact-finding study to re-examine whether to keep the Turkish government money. A decision will reportedly be announced in the near future.
Serop Nenejian–Chairman of the ANC-Oregon chapter–who has been playing an instrumental role in alerting the university and public at large of the problems associated with the proposed establishment of the program noted–"I am pleased that people are finally beginning to understand that the Turkish government’s attempts to infiltrate American academia is not an exclusively Armenian–Greek–or Kurdish problem. Academic freedom has never meant allowing foreign governmen’s to purchase a pulpit in academia from which they can distort history. If Turkey is allowed to continue its insidious campaign of using our universities as vehicles to deny the Armenian Genocide and avoid responsibility for this internationally recognized crime–all Americans will be negatively impacted," concluded Nenejian.
Reps. Sherman and Pallone Call on Berkeley and PSU To Follow UCLA’s Lead
Last week Congressman Brad Sherman of California and Frank Pallone of New Jersey–active members of the Congressional Armenian Issues Caucus–delivered remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives on the threat to academic integrity presented by the proliferation of Turkish government sponsored studies programs.
Sherman–a UCLA alumnus–stated–"I am always aware of the fact that my alma mater needs funds–as every school does. $1.2 million and more was offered to UCLA by the Turkish government which attached some strings to–in effect–require that whoever sat in that chair would be in favor of the Turkish interpretation of history and of the positions of the Turkish government."
"While I was proud of UCLA so many other times–I was never prouder than when the UCLA History faculty and the UCLA academic community said academic integrity is not for sale in Westwood. I hope that other universities will say the same thing…I hope that Portland State University and the great University of California–Berkeley will follow the lead of UCLA and say–`Academic integrity is not for sale.’"
Congressman Frank Pallone added–"I just wanted to say that everyone associated with UCLA should be proud of the stand taken by the University. UCLA is not only a university with a great academic reputation–it is also a school that receives public funding–giving it added responsibility to the community for maintaining standards of academic excellence and integrity. I hope that Berkeley and Portland State will also take this factor into consideration."
At the University of California–Berkeley–the ANC Bay Area Chapter–the Armenian Genocide Resource Center–the Berkeley Armenian Students Association as well as a number of concerned alumni and community members have pooled their efforts and spent considerable time informing and education school administrators of the Turkish government’s long record of denial and revisionism.
"Given the wealth of information and material on this subject made public by the ANC–the AGRC–the Berkeley ASA–author Peter Balakian and genocide researchers and scholars Ara Sarafian and Hilmar Kaiser–it should be abundantly clear to Berkeley–Portland State University–indeed all responsible academic institutions that entering into a contractual relationship with the government of Turkey will inevitably diminish the standing of their institution and–most important of all–expose our students to the very real threat of being taught fraudulent scholarship," stated Vicken Sonentz- Papazian–Executive Director of the ANCA-WR.