Scholars at Risk Network organizes April 10 panel discussion about academic freedomBy William Harms
Not only do faculty members in some countries face problems when they speak out, but students also can find themselves in peril because local authorities view their activities as threatening, said Robert Quinn, Director of the Scholars at Risk Network and an organizer of a panel discussion on student movements and academic freedom.
The discussion, featuring three students from abroad, will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, in Coulter Lounge of International House, as part of the Universitys PanAsia Week events.
The three visiting speakers, Aung Din of Burma, Antonius Made Supriatma of Indonesia, and Tenzin Bhagin of Tibet, have either experienced persecution or are representing students who are dealing with problems in their country.
Students experience a variety of restrictions and threats, he said. Sometimes there are monitors in their classrooms, who chill discussions and therefore inhibit learning. Other times, students are directly imprisoned, tortured and even killed in retaliation for exercising their rights to expression, opinion or thought. There needs to be an atmosphere within the university that allows and even encourages students to explore new ideas and opinions, Quinn said. This necessarily requires authorities to respect students rights of free expression even when students address political, social or cultural issues felt outside the university, he added.
The April 10 event is being co-sponsored by International House Global Voices Program, PanAsia Week, the Human Rights Program, Center for International Studies, Chinese Outlook Student Association, Amnesty International and Students for a Free Tibet.
The panel discussion is the first event that will launch a new project called Students at Risk, which is aimed at raising awareness of attacks on the human rights of students worldwide. Students at Risk is a sub-project of the Scholars at Risk Network, which was launched last year and is part of the Universitys Human Rights Program.
Scholars at Risk, launched in June 2000, works to promote respect for academic freedom and to defend the human rights of scholars worldwide, in part by helping persecuted scholars find temporary placements at network institutions.
So far, the network includes 56 universities and colleges in the United States. For more information about the panel discussion or the Scholars at Risk Network, you may visit the network Web site at http://scholarsatrisk.uchicago.edu.