State News Staff Writer
When the Iranian government closed down a university last fall, several universities across the United States reacted to what they called an attack on academic freedom.
At MSU, the Council of Graduate Students passed a resolution at its Wednesday meeting about the situation in Iran. COGS will send a letter to the United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural Organization and the government of Iran condemning the government's actions.
In September 1998, the Iranian Government shut down the Baha'i Institute of Higher Education. The government arrested professors and staff members, and looted homes.
Ron Whitmore, COGS College of Agriculture and Natural Resources representative, proposed the letter.
"The simplest thing is for institutions and individuals to write and to express their outrage at the blatant denial of the basic human right of education in Iran," he said.
The institute was founded in 1987 after the Iranians banned the Baha'is from teaching at colleges and universities for seven years. More than 900 students and a faculty of 150 instructors and academics made up the university.
Many professors, lecturers and administrators were Baha'i academics fired from university positions after the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Baha'i is a religion that believes in a single god and claims 5 million believers worldwide.
In the resolution it passed, COGS "demands that the Iranian government afford Baha'is full legal and human rights, including access to higher education, and refrain from further attempts to prohibit or otherwise impede the operations of the Baha'i Institute of Higher Education".
In response to the actions of the Iranian government, other universities besides MSU have written to Iran. Oregon State University, University of Nebraska and the University of Wisconsin at Lacrosse have all taken action.
Whitmore said that as an organization representing students who benefit from higher education, COGS should involve itself in the situation.
"COGS should be concerned about the denial of anybody's right to learn," he said.
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