University of Virginia’s Statement of Solidarity for JNU

We, the undersigned students and faculty at the University of Virginia, stand in solidarity with the staff, students, and faculty at Jawarharlal University (JNU), New Delhi. We share the outrage of citizens around the world who are aggrieved at the Modi government’s criminalization of student protest and dissent. Further, we are extremely concerned by the government’s cavalier suppression of dissent as ‘sedition’ and ‘anti-national’. Freedom of speech and expression are cornerstones in any democracy. Citizens’ rights to express a plurality of beliefs and contrary opinions are essential to enabling a free, tolerant, and just society. We thus condemn the arrest, detention, and prosecution of students, including Kanhaiya Kumar (President of JNU Students Union), who have exercised this fundamental right on the JNU campus.

We also condemn the state’s wanton use of police and legal powers to subdue the rights of students to gather peaceably and debate their political beliefs. We are concerned that the persecution of students at JNU is galvanized by the state’s general repression of minorities, most notably evidenced in the tragic suicide of the Dalit student Rohith Vemula at the University of Hyderabad and the controversial execution of Afzal Guru. We value the resilience of the members of the JNU community who are now in the midst of the struggle. We also recognize the ties between the crackdown at JNU and other similar virulent state actions against some of India’s most excellent institutions of higher education: Jadavpur University, Kolkata; the University of Hyderabad; Film and Television Institute of India; and others. JNU’s preeminent reputation in India as an institution that fosters path-breaking scholarship, social activism, and critical thought is truly global. It is our hope that this statement of solidarity, by reaching across boundaries, affirms the exalted regard with which JNU is held in the international community of scholars.

In order to ensure that JNU can carry on with its educational mission, we urge the Government of India to remedy the situation immediately. To this end, we ask that the students arrested under false charges of ‘sedition’ be released immediately, that all charges against them be dropped, and that police incursions into campus activities cease. We call on the Vice Chancellor of JNU to uphold the university’s global reputation for safeguarding free and independent thought by protecting its most vulnerable members and students.

Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the University of Virginia aspires to extend universally the rights of equality, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness imagined by its founder. Even so, UVA continues to face its own struggles against discrimination based on race, class, religion, gender, and sex. It is in the name of these struggles on our own historic Grounds that members of this university find it urgent to speak out in solidarity with JNU and against the suppression of minority voices in India.

Signed:

  1. Mrinalini Chakravorty, Associate Professor of English

  2. Michael Levenson, William B. Christian Professor of English

  3. Rita Felski, William R Kenan, Jr. Professor of English

  4. Richard Barnett, Associate Professor of History

  5. Laura Goldblatt, Doctoral Graduate, Department of English

  6. Maya Hislop, PhD Candidate, Department of English

  7. Marva A. Barnett, Founding Director & Professor Center for Teaching Excellence, University of Virginia

  8. Emily Ogden, Assistant Professor of English

  9. Austin Hetrick, PhD Candidate, English

  10. Jane Alison, Professor and Director of Creative Writing, Department of English

  11. Christopher Krentz, Associate Professor of English

  12. Kevin Hart, Edwin B Kyle Professor of Christian Studies

  13. Allan Megill, Professor of History

  14. Walter Jost, Professor of English

  15. Stephen Arata, Professor and Chair Department of English

  16. Gustavo Pellón, Associate Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature

  17. Jennifer Tsien, Associate Professor of French

  18. Sara Mohamed Khalil, University of Virginia Class of 2017, College of Arts and Sciences

  19. David Herman, Associate Professor, Chair, Dept. of Slavic Langs. & Lits.

  20. Karen Chase Levenson, Linden Kent Memorial Professor of English

  21. Herbert Tucker, John C. Coleman Professor of English

  22. Katelyn Durkin, PhD Candidate, English

  23. Debjani Ganguly, Professor of English, Director of the Institute of Humanities and Global Cultures

  24. Elizabeth Fowler, Associate Professor of English

  25. H.L. Seneviratne, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology

  26. John Bugbee, PhD Candidate, Department of Religious Studies

  27. Sandhya Shukla, Associate Professor of English and Director of American Studies

  28. Sophie Abramowitz, PhD Student, English

  29. Eva Latterner, PhD Student, English

  30. Andrew Taylor, PhD Student, Religious Studies

  31. Nathan Swami, Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering

  32. Geeta Patel, Associate Professor & Director, UVA in India Program
    Department of Middle Eastern & South Asian Languages Cultures;
    Program in Women Gender & Sexuality Studies

  33. Susan Fraiman, Professor of English

  34. Alyssa Collins, PhD Student, English

  35. George Derk, PhD Candidate, English

  36. Jennifer Wicke, Professor of English

  37. William Rhodes, PhD Candidate, English

  38. Madeline Zehnder, PhD Student, English

  39. David Germano, Professor of Buddhist Studies

  40. Andrew Johnson, Graduate Student, English

  41. Siva Vaidhyanathan, Robertson Professor of Media Studies

  42. Jacqueline Cieslak, Doctoral Student, Department of Anthropology

  43. Anna Brickhouse, Professor of English

  44. Susan McKinnon, Professor of Anthropology

  45. Nomi Dave, Assistant Professor, Department of Music

  46. Paul Turowski, PhD Candidate, Department of Music

  47. Saad Quasem, Graduate Student, Department of Anthropology

  48. Aldona Dye, PhD Student, Department of Music

  49. Jerome S. Handler, Senior Scholar, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

  50. Sarah Winstein-Hibbs, PhD Student, English

  51. Antonia LoLordo, Professor of Philosophy

  52. Lawrie Balfour, Professor of Politics

  53. Carol Mershon, Professor of Politics

  54. Bonnie Gordon, Associate Professor, Department of Music

  55. Jahan Ramazani, University Professor and Edgar F. Shannon Professor of English

  56. Caroline Rody, Professor of English

  57. Sheena Singh, Doctoral Student, Department of Anthropology

  58. David Leblang, J Wilson Newman Professor of Governance, Chair, Department of Politics

  59. Annie Galvin, PhD Candidate, English

  60. Kath Weston, Professor of Anthropology

  61. Jap-Nanak Makkar, PhD Candidate, Department of English

  62. John Nemec, Associate Professor of Religious Studies

  63. Karen Huang, Doctoral Student, Department of English

  64. Lucila Figueroa, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Politics

  65. Denise Walsh, Associate Professor, Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics;
    Women, Gender & Sexuality

  66. Sylvia Chong, Associate Professor of English

  67. James Igoe, Associate Professor of Anthropology

  68. Neeti Nair, Associate Professor of History

  69. Anastasia Curley, PhD Candidate, English

  70. China Scherz, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology

  71. Janet Horne, Associate Professor of French

  72. Lisa Goff, Lecturer, Arts and Sciences

  73. Paul D. Halliday, Julian Bishko Professor of History and Professor of Law, Chair, Corcoran Department of History

  74. Andrew W. Kahrl, Assistant Professor of History

  75. Brad Reed, Associate Professor of History

74. Nabaparna Ghosh, Lecturer, Department of History

  1. Jongmin Lee, Lecturer, Department of Engineering

  2. Daniel Ehnbom, Associate Professor of Art & Director, UVA South Asia Center

  3. Bonnie Hagerman, Lecturer, Women, Gender & Sexuality

  4. Amita Sudhir, Associate Professor, Emergency Medicine