Category Archives: Arison Group

The Graduate Teaching Assistant’s Letter of Solidarity

Dear New Century College Faculty and Administrators,

A letter which has circulated among faculty and students has brought to light troubling information about the Arison Group which has donated funds for an endowed professorship of Doing Good Values in New Century College. Shari Arison, the owner of Arison Group will be acknowledged at George Mason University’s 2013 commencement ceremonies, receiving an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

As graduate teaching assistants and graduate lecturers at New Century College, we have appreciated the college’s inclusiveness, intellectual freedom and commitment to social justice. However, we are concerned that NCC’s relationship with the Arison Group may contradict many of the values of NCC which we hold dear, and which could impact our students’ experiences and the public perception of the college.

NCC describes its commitment to equity “as fairness in the distribution of rights and resources to populations, especially those who are often disenfranchised.” We worry that a professorship endowed by the Arison Group serves as an endorsement for the Arison Group’s involvement with Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and the construction of the Apartheid Wall, actions completely contrary to NCC’s stated commitments. We think that asking Palestinian students and their families to sit through a commencement that honors someone who has profited from their dispossession fails to support students, faculty and staff who have been the victims of bias and discrimination. We also fear that this relationship may set an alarming precedent for future corporate collaborations, which could be at odds with NCC’s stated commitments to diversity, equity, and sustainability.

Because we firmly believe in New Century College’s dedication to creating an environment that engages diverse points of view, we would like to see a critical discussion about the current relationship with Arison Group, how this may affect the college, and the conditions for future financial and academic partnerships. We ask that these discussions are sustained as long as necessary to resolve our concerns.

Sincerely,

Graduate Teaching Assistants

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GMU Students to Walkout of Winter Graduation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

GMU Students to Walkout of Winter Graduation

Action Protests Shari Arison, Israeli Billionaire and Apartheid-Profiteer

Fairfax, VA, 17 December 2013

On Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 1:00pm, Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) will lead a walkout of George Mason University’s Winter Commencement ceremony at the Patriot Center on GMU’s Fairfax Campus. University administrators contacted Students Against Israeli Apartheid, responding to this public outcry. After a week-long period of discussion, the university met SAIA’s demand for accommodations for graduating students who did not wish to have their ceremony marred by Arison’s presence, and released the following statement:  “Graduates seated on the arena floor will be able to leave through an exit at the rear of the hall. These individuals will be provided an option of waiting in a reserved room. (…) An event staff member will inform those waiting when the commencement speaker’s remarks have concluded.  Graduates and guests can then re-enter the arena.” This is a historical opportunity for graduating students to demonstrate their commitment to human rights and stand in solidarity with the Palestinian students that have been personally affected by the on-going occupation of Palestine by Apartheid Israel. As the first campus that has resisted the Arison Group’s influence, Mason can set a strong precedent for rejecting the Arison Group’s whitewashing of Israeli Apartheid.

Shari Arison, owner of the Arison Group, is receiving an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters and speaking at the commencement ceremony. An open letter written by faculty sponsor Craig Willse and graduating SAIA President Tareq Radi that raised concerns about the Arison Group’s complicity in the occupation of Palestine and highlighted the hypocrisy of an apartheid-profiteer funding an endowed chair to teach “Doing Good Values” was widely read by the campus community. Many students, faculty, and staff who were previously unaware of the nature of the Arison Group’s involvement at Mason were outraged at the prospect of an apartheid-profiteer using the University as a publicity tool.

In the past two weeks, SAIA publicized Arison’s profiteering through a variety of methods. SAIA put up flyers with the slogans “Arison Investments: Colonizing Curriculum” and “No Honor in Apartheid” to resist the trend of privatization at the University and demonstrate how honoring Arison directly contradicts GMU’s new vision and guiding principles. On social media, SAIA utilized #arisonIDEA to show how apartheid would look on Mason’s campus. On the Fairfax campus’ North Plaza, SAIA constructed an eight-foot tall wall to further publicize the campaign. In combination with the open letter, these efforts sparked a discussion within the New Century College, the home of Arison’s endowed professorship. Dean Lisa Gring-Pemble called a meeting on Friday, December 6, for faculty and staff of NCC to air their concerns. As resistance against Arison’s role at George Mason mounts, these conversations are expected to continue.

Students Against Israeli Apartheid

Email: gmusaia@gmail.com

Website: gmusaiablog.wordpress.com

Twitter: @GMUSAIA

Facebook: facebook.com/GMUSAIA

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GMU SAIA PRESS RELEASE- Walkout

On Tuesday November 5 at 7:00 PM, George Mason University Students Against Israeli Apartheid conducted a walkout of the “My Israeli Arab Conflict,” featuring IDF Sgt. Benjamin Anthony from the organization “Our Soldiers Speak.” Although GMU’s CAMERA fellow and Israel Student Association promoted the event, the event was officially organized by Hillel and its director, Ross Diamond (according to the official university scheduling tool). While Hillel Continue reading GMU SAIA PRESS RELEASE- Walkout