- As NYU Expands Into Abu Dhabi, UAE Bars Professor Researching Migrant Worker Abuse (democracynow.org)
- Murky Inquiry Targets Critic of N.Y.U. Role in Abu Dhabi, and a Reporter (nytimes.com)
- Professor Andrew Ross Under Investigation By Unknown Party (nyulocal.com)
- NYU Professor and Journalist Barred from Investigating NYU Abu Dhabi (wnyc.org)
President John Sexton
New York University
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012
March 31, 2015
Dear President Sexton:
We are writing now in concern for Professor Andrew Ross.
Ross is a professor in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU and heads the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors. He has written extensively about labor practices in the Middle East and has publicly criticized what he believed were abuses in this area.
According to news reports, earlier in March, Ross was barred from boarding a plane bound for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on his way to conduct further research. Ross told reporters that he believes that the denial of entry by the UAE was issued in retaliation for his criticism of the exploitation of migrant construction workers who helped to build NYU’s campus in Abu Dhabi.
We understand that NYU has an agreement with the Government of the UAE to honor basic academic freedoms in its facility in that country. In Article 15 of the International Covenant on Social, Economic, and Cultural Rights, almost every nation has recognized their obligation to respect the freedom indispensable for scientific research and to promote the benefits derived from international contacts and cooperation in scientific and cultural fields. NYU’s agreement with the UAE seems to embody the spirit of this covenant, particularly as regards academic freedom.
Denial of entry to a faculty member in this case, absent any other explanation, seems to be related to Ross’ work on labor practices in the Gulf, particularly his research concerning construction of the NYU facility. We are writing to ask you what the University plans to do concerning what appears to be violation of assurances NYU has received from the UAE about academic freedom.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Sincerely,Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich,
Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Professor Andrew Ross