After a veritable social media storm, complaints from students at Brandeis University and a petition that quickly gathered 6,000 signatures, Brandeis has withdrawn its honorary degree offer to extreme Islamophobe, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Questions linger, why did Brandeis include Ayaan in the first place? She is not an “Islam critic” as the New York Times portrays her. Also what evidence is there that she actually has done anything for “women’s rights,” as claimed in Brandeis’ press release?
Following a discussion today between President Frederick Lawrence and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ms. Hirsi Ali’s name has been withdrawn as an honorary degree recipient at this year’s commencement. She is a compelling public figure and advocate for women’s rights, and we respect and appreciate her work to protect and defend the rights of women and girls throughout the world. That said, we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values. For all concerned, we regret that we were not aware of these statements earlier.
Commencement is about celebrating and honoring our extraordinary students and their accomplishments, and we are committed to providing an atmosphere that allows our community’s focus to be squarely on our students. In the spirit of free expression that has defined Brandeis University throughout its history, Ms. Hirsi Ali is welcome to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.