Academic Freedom Advocacy Week Runs May 2-7

The 2020-2021 Center for Ethics program 'Engaging in Speech and Action' is collaborating with the Scholars at Risk program. Students will host a wide range of events to raise awareness about and advocate on behalf of scholars who have been imprisoned for their political beliefs around the world.

 Thursday, April 29, 2021 09:13 PM

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This year, the Center for Ethics program "Engaging in Speech and Action" is collaborating with Scholars at Risk, a U.S.-based international network of academic institutions organized to support and defend the principles of academic freedom and to defend the human rights of scholars around the world.

Throughout the year Muhlenberg students have been taking part in scholar advocacy seminars affiliated with the Scholars at Risk network. These seminars have engaged students in raising awareness about and developing plans to advocate on behalf of scholars who have been imprisoned for their political beliefs around the world. 

The week of May 2, students will host a wide range of programming designed to raise awareness about and engage the campus community in advocacy on behalf of several scholars imprisoned in Bahrain, China, Egypt, India and Iran for expressions of their political, and at times cultural and religious, beliefs. In some cases, scholars have been detained while doing scientific research without having even engaged in explicit political activities.  

Some of these events will be held online; some involve signing new and existing petitions; some involve contacting members of Congress; and some involve in-person, on-campus activities ranging from art exhibits to tabling, to planting lilies, to the screening of documentaries (both in the Red Door and on the Campus Lawn). 

Support is provided by the Muhlenberg Activities Council, the Center for Ethics and Dana Honors Program.

Sunday, May 2

  • Academic Freedom Workshop 
    2–3:00 p.m., Via Zoom
    An introductory workshop designed to open up Advocacy Week with an interactive discussion of Academic Freedom and its implications abroad and on college campuses like Muhlenberg.  

Monday, May 3

  • "Visuals for the Voiceless: Exposing the Uyghur Genocide" (Art Exhibit)
    May 37, Light Lounge, Seegers Union
    A photo and art exhibit depicting the lives of the Uyghur people and the human rights violations they endure.

  • Peace through sport should NOT mean political neutrality Petition Drive
    Noon2 p.m., Parent’s Plaza
    Students advocating for the release of human rights activist Patrick George Zaki, detained since February 2020 in Egypt, invite students to electronically join a petition drive to end the International Olympic Committee’s stance banning athletes from making political statements, as well as international petitions calling for Egypt to release Mr. Zaki.  Events like the Olympics have historically provided spaces for athletes to raise awareness about human rights abuses like Mr. Zaki’s detention.
  • Cheetah Stuff-a-Plush
    34 p.m., Light Lounge, Seegers Union
    Before her imprisonment, Niloufar Bayani's conservation work with the Persian Wildlife Foundation was focused on the endangered Asiatic Cheetah. Join us to make a stuffed cheetah while learning about her research and what you can do to help her case. Generously supported by MAC.

  • Academic Freedom in India Webinar
    67 p.m. Zoom Workshop
    Pre-Registration Link 

  • Assistant Professor of Film Studies David Romberg
    7 - 8 p.m. 
    Via Zoom
    Romberg presents clips from his film in progress, "Mi Buenos Aires Querida," and talks about his father: artist, scholar, and political activist Osvaldo Romberg, who was active in Argentina in the 1960s-70s.

Tuesday, May 4

  • Lilies for Bayani
    11 a.m. – noon, Via Instagram Live (
    Senior Dana students will be planting lilies in honor of the wrongfully imprisoned environmentalist, Niloufar Bayani. Niloufar means water lily. This event will be livestreamed on instagram (@bergstudentsforSAR). We hope that these will serve as a long-lived reminder for the Muhlenberg community of this injustice and the value of academic freedom.
  • "The Plight of the Uyghurs" (Film screenings of "China Undercover")
    – 6:30 p.m., The Red Door, Seegers Union 
    A cultural genocide is happening at this very moment. The Chinese government is persecuting Uyghurs and forcibly holding them in “reeducation” (detention) camps. China is trying to conceal this matter from the world, but China Undercover, a PBS documentary, unveils the reality of what is happening. Come learn the truth and say “no” to persecution!

  • Dana Senior Forum
    – 9 p.m., Zoom Webinar
    Group presentations showcasing Dana students' research and advocacy work in conjunction with Scholars at Risk and the Center for Ethics' Program, Engaging in Speech and Action.

Wednesday, May 5

  • Professor GN Saibaba Advocacy Tabling
    11 a.m. – noon, Light Lounge, Seegers Union
    Members of the Dana Scholars Senior Forum who are teaming with the organization known as Scholars at Risk will be bringing awareness to the case of Professor GN Saibaba who has been wrongfully imprisoned in India. Students will be presented with the opportunity to sign a petition and take free merchandise as ways of advocating for Dr. Saibaba's release from prison.
  • Spotlight Muhlenberg: Muhlenberg Advocacy Week and Scholars at Risk
    9:30 – 10 a.m. on WMUH 91.7 FM
  • Free Patrick Zaki Contact Congress Event
    Noon – 1 p.m., Light Lounge, Seegers Union
    We invite you to stop by, scan a QR code, input contact information for the Congressional official of your choice and help bring Patrick Zaki’s case to the attention of the US Congress.
  • Letter Writing for Uyghur Human Rights Legislation
    – 7 p.m., 
    Via Zoom
    Join the Ilham Tohti advocacy group as we write letters to our representatives asking them to endorse legislation that protects Uyghur rights. Information and templates will be provided, and more details on specific legislation will arrive as the event draws closer. We will be gathering virtually via this link:

  • "Red Ant Dream" Documentary Screening 
    – 10 p.m. (Campus Green)
    Presented by students who have been advocating on behalf of scholar and human rights activist G.N. Saibaba, who has been in prison in India since 2017, this film is based on the Maoist movement in India. There will be a talkback immediately following the screening. Rain location TBA

Thursday, May 6, 2021

  • Birthday Cards for Bayani
    – 4 p.m., Light Lounge, Seegers Union
    Join us writing birthday cards for Niloufar Bayani, an imprisoned conservationist in Iran. We will be sending these cards to her family as a reminder of those fighting for her release and thinking about her case, to be received for her birthday, May 9th.
  • "Conversation with the Creators of Visuals for the Voiceless: Addressing the Uyghur Genocide"
    – 6 p.m., Light Lounge, Seegers Union
    Have you heard of the Uyghur genocide? Come by the Light Lounge to see our exhibit and learn how you can stand with the Uyghur people!

  • "The Plight of the Uyghurs" (Film screenings of "China Undercover")
    – 8:30 p.m., The Red Door, Seegers Union

  • Saibaba Late Night Poetry Jam
    10 – 11 p.m., Burkholder Quad Tent
    The Saibaba Late Night Poetry Jam is a space to share poetry and learn about Professor Saibaba's creative work written while in solitary confinement.

Friday, May 7, 2021

  • Final Event
    – 3 p.m. 
    A final event will take place Friday afternoon. Watch for details about this event, which will either be held under the Burkholder tent or via Zoom.

More information:

Brian Mello, Director
Associate Professor, Political Science
Marcia Morgan, Program Director
Associate Professor of Philosophy