Sixteen university chaplains and deans of religious life have warned that "differing opinions, debate and dissent are at times stifled or chilled" on some major university campuses. The statement from the Association of College and University Religious Affairs named no issues, but a spokeswoman said that a provocative group singling out "apologists" for Palestinians and Muslims was the chief concern.
Susan T. Henry-Crowe, chaplain and dean of religious life at Emory University, said that a group called Campus Watch, whose most active advocate may be Daniel Pipes, "has targeted certain professors who are on the more dovish than hawkish side of things" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and issues. The group, on its Web site at campus-watch.org, solicits reports on Jewish, Muslim and other faculty who "fan the flames of disinformation, incitement and ignorance."
The campus clergy association, which has about 40 members, formed its statement of concern at its recent annual meeting in Atlanta. The statement declared the principles of free speech and academic freedom to be sacred and central to campus integrity. The signers urged larger religious communities to help foster "constructive and collaborative discourse" on campuses.
Besides Henry-Crowe, signers included Deborah K. Blanks, associate dean of religious life and of the chapel, Princeton University; Timothy S. Stevens, university chaplain, Northwestern University; and Sharon M. K. Kugler, university chaplain, Johns Hopkins University