The Tide Turns: Letitia James Backs Off From Threats to CUNY

New York City Councilwoman Letitia James officially announced today that she has withdrawn her signature from that letter sent from Assistant Majority Leader Lewis Fidler threatening Brooklyn College and CUNY with a lost of funding if the BDS event goes forward with the political science department’s co-sponsorship. On Twitter today, she said the following:

  1. @peterrothberg I hear your concern. While I have serious concerns about this event, I don’t think it would be appropriate for the Council…
  2. @peterrothberg to use CUNY budget to influence what issues are discussed on campus & what groups are invited. I will remove myself from ltr.
  3. Hi @HuffPostNY! I addressed BC ltr earlier today- I removed my name. Welcome to call my office at 212-788-7081 to discuss my actual opinion.


This statement is particularly important as James is running for New York City Public Advocate. Standing up for academic freedom is not only principled; it may also be politic.

Update (8:40 pm)

Doug Henwood posts a lengthier statement from James at his FB page. It reads thus:

I am writing to respond to the emails and communications I’ve received in the last 24 hours concerning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and the upcoming panel discussion at CUNY’s Brooklyn College.

I have serious concerns about the language some in the BDS movement use. That said, I support the principle of academic freedom, and further recognize that Brooklyn College Political Science Department’s co-sponsorship does not mean the school endorses the views that may be expressed at the forum.

Furthermore, while I would not characterize the referenced letter as a fiscal ‘threat’, I agree that it would be inappropriate to even imply that the Council use their power over CUNY’s budget to influence what issues are discussed on campus, or what groups are invited to engage in dialogue. Because I did not want to be misunderstood in my position, I removed myself from the letter.

I have always strived to be communicative to my constituents— as well as anyone who contacts my office with a concern— and I hope that I have addressed your concerns. Please contact my office at (212) 788-7081 if you have any further questions.


  1. Scott Preston February 4, 2013 at 8:37 pm | #

    A breach in the wall; a crack in the edifice.

  2. Scott Preston February 4, 2013 at 8:43 pm | #

    By the by… I wouldn’t want to suggest rushing the breach. Perhaps, instead, inviting the fortified and walled up out through it.

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