Pitzer removes Haifa from pre-approved study abroad list

Pitzer College President Strom C. Thacker announced plans to veto a Pitzer College Council resolution that, if approved, would permanently shut down the college’s study abroad program with the University of Haifa in Israel. Photo/courtesy of Pitzer College

By Annabelle Ink | Special to the Courier

Pitzer College removed its study abroad program with the University of Haifa from its list of pre-approved programs last week, and though some students and community members celebrated the move as progress in their six year “suspend Pitzer Haifa” campaign, the college made clear it was not part of an academic boycott.

“The programs are no longer pre-approved for enrollment by Pitzer students because they do not meet our criteria, due, specifically, to lack of enrollments for at least five years, exchange imbalance, or curricular overlap,” read an April 2 statement by Allen M. Omoto, Pitzer’s vice president of academic affairs and dean of faculty.

Pitzer’s Faculty Executive Committee voted to remove 11 study abroad programs from the college’s list of pre-approved programs and to place eight additional programs under review.

“I want to clarify that these programs are not closed, nor do any of these actions reflect an academic boycott,” Omoto wrote. “Pitzer students may still attend these programs through a petition process overseen by the Study Abroad and International Programs Committee; the programs are simply no longer pre-approved for enrollment by Pitzer students.”

According to Omoto, the decision by the faculty executive committee was grounded in recommendations from the curriculum committee and the academic planning committee. These recommendations were derived from the college’s study abroad and international programs committee, which found the programs did not meet the criteria of Pitzer’s “Guiding Principles for Opening and Closing Pitzer-Approved Study Abroad Programs.”

The study abroad committee came to this conclusion on March 19, when members reviewed two proposals to remove 19 study abroad programs from Pitzer’s pre-approved list:

  • The first cited lack of student enrollment, the exchange imbalance, and curricular overlap seen within 12 of Pitzer’s study abroad programs as reasoning for their removal from the college’s pre-approved list.


  • The second, titled ‘Proposal to Close Pitzer College’s Approved Study Abroad Program with the University of Haifa,’ included critiques of Pitzer’s partnership with the university. “Pitzer as a U.S. academic institution facilitates the University of Haifa’s normalization of Israeli apartheid, settler colonialism, and ethnic cleansing, by engaging in academic exchanges with Israeli universities,” read the proposal. “As long as Pitzer College maintains an institutional partnership with the University of Haifa, we are partners in apartheid … in colonial domination and further projects of ethnic cleansing. Apartheid, ethnic cleansing, racial discrimination and colonial domination are antithetical to Pitzer’s core values.”


On April 2, Pitzer Faculty Executive Committee chair Nigel Boyle released a statement calling for a cease-fire in Gaza and affirming its support for the discontinuation of the school’s partnership with the University of Haifa. “We stand firmly against any form of discrimination targeting Palestinian students and faculty, and the deliberate exclusion of Palestinian perspectives from the curriculum within Israeli universities,” the statement reads. “As a result, we will actively discourage any partnerships with institutions that perpetuate such practices.”

Claremont SJP and Claremont Jewish Voice for Peace released a joint statement on April 1. The two student organizations celebrated the removal of Pitzer’s program with the University of Haifa from the college’s pre-approved list as a “BDS victory,” referencing the broader Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

“Pitzer College now stands as the first U.S. higher education institution to enact a significant measure of the academic boycott of Israel,” the press release reads. “While today marks a historic BDS victory, our fight to maintain this institutional win continues.”

The Pitzer College Council was scheduled to vote Thursday on resolution 60-R-5, which passed the Pitzer Senate by a 34-1 vote on Feb. 11. The resolution would permanently suspend Pitzer’s study abroad program with the University of Haifa. If passed and approved by Pitzer President Strom Thacker, it would create a permanent academic boycott.

Ink is a sophomore English major at Pomona College and hopes to pursue a career in journalism after college.


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