All requests may be typed and submitted to the Executive Vice President no later 5:00 p.m. Thursday in order to be included in the agenda for the following Tuesday. The Executive Vice President reserves the right to delay the Request for Action to a later Council session if the Executive Vice President feels the agenda for the next schedule meeting is full.
Item Number: 57 Legislation Number (B: Bill, R: Resolution): R51-52
Author:   Miguel Olvera   Second:  Amy Fan, Kristine Jermakian
Synopsis: Resolution to Protect Academic Freedom and Integrity
Date of Presentation: 2016-02-04

Resolution to Protect Academic Freedom and Integrity

Whereas, The University of California Irvine School of Humanities is part of the University of California Irvine (UCI)

Whereas, the University of California Irvine School of Humanities will hereinafter be referred to as the SOH

Whereas The Dharma Civilization Foundation is a non-profit organization based in the United States of America,

Whereas, The Dharma Civilization Foundation will hereinafter be referred to as the DCF

Whereas, in January 2015, the Thakkar Family and DCF donated $1.5 million for the establishment of the Thakkar Family-Dharma Civilization Foundation Presidential Chair in Vedic and Indic Civilization Studies in the SOH

Whereas, UC President Janet Napolitano will be funding half a million dollars to establish a total endowment of 2 million dollars

Whereas, in October of 2015, the SOH announced three new endowed chairs in Sikh, Jain, and Modern India studies,

Whereas, the establishment of the Sikh and Jain studies chairs was made possible by private donations by DCF board members and donors while the establishment of the Modern India Studies chair was gifted directly by the DCF

Whereas funds for endowed chairs last the academic career of a scholar, granting each chair tenure

Whereas “endowed chairs have the ability to shape the direction of academics in the space around it by attracting undergraduate and graduate students interested in that field,”

Whereas,  SOH Dean Georges van den Abbeele failed to invite faculty, including current South Asianists at UC Irvine to the consultation with the donors and administration,

Whereas there has been an unfortunate lack of transparency in the selection process

Whereas the DCF stated that it wants reassurance that the intent of the donor is not “disregarded or subverted” in the process of selection of endowed chairs,

Whereas the mission statement of the DCF is to promoting the systematic study of “Dharma’, and to ensure that the “systematic study of India and Indic Civilization is freed up from the rubric of “South Asian studies”, and enshrined in indigenous epistemological perspectives.”

Whereas Kalyan Viswanathan, Executive Vice President of the DCF dismissed the possibility of the occupant of the Thakkar chair engaging with critiques of Hinduism

Whereas, scholarly studies of religion and other ideologies should engage in critical thought and research

Whereas, a petition signed by UCI faculty and staff, graduate and undergraduate students, as well as scholars from around the world has gathered over 350 signatures opposing:  “Threats, implicit or explicit, to faculty, staff and the academic community at large; Compromising academic freedom and integrity in order to promote the agendas of a donor; Donor influence in hiring practices, especially without consulting faculty and graduate students working in the field; Lack of consultation with specialists in the field prior to signing the contract; The increasing lack of transparency and due diligence in the School of Humanities and the Dean’s Office; The silencing of Marxist, Feminist, Postcolonial, and Subaltern traditions in South Asian Studies”

Whereas, some DCF board members are also members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), ( Hindi: “National Volunteer Organization”) and have received training from the RSS, a neofascist  and violent group, whose existence UCI then whitewashes by accepting money from their formal US counterpart,

Whereas, students and faculty want to protect academic freedom and integrity,

Whereas, public universities must retain academic independence and not bow to influences of outside donors regardless of lack of funding

Let it be resolved that:

ASUCI affirms the student petition’s support for the development of South Asian Studies and the History of Religion at UCI,

Let it also be resolved that ASUCI supports critical and rigorous academic research

Let it further be resolved that ASUCI condemns the influence of outside donors and social, religious and political agendas in the process of selecting endowed chairs

Let it further be resolved that ASUCI strongly suggests increasing transparency with the selection of the proposed endowed chairs, through meetings open to students, staff, and faculty,

Let it further be resolved that ASUCI demands a commitment to inclusive education, not limited to a single set of ideologies, but checked by dissenting critiques and traditions.



Referred to: Committee on:
Vote Required: Majority FINAL VOTE: Passed YEA: 15 NAY: 0  ABS: 0
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Executive Vice President, ASUCI      Verification of Executive Cabinet