(New York, NY) — Administrators at Skidmore College need to take a firmer stance and unequivocally defend the basic rights of their faculty, PEN America said today. Students at the private liberal arts college in New York have called for an art professor, David Peterson, to be fired, and also engaged in a boycott of his fall classes, in response to his having attended a pro-“Blue Lives” rally in the city in July. In his statement about the incident, Peterson said he attended the rally not to support it, but just out of “civic interest and curiosity.”

“The students here made a wrongheaded call for Peterson to be fired and boycotted,” said Jonathan Friedman, director of PEN America’s Campus Free Speech Program. “It should be easy for Skidmore to ardently defend his basic civil liberties, and clearly and unequivocally explain why these calls are so disproportionate and extreme. If students at the college have truly been intimidated into boycotting Peterson’s classes against their wishes that is a problem the college must move to rectify immediately. Anything less is a betrayal of the pillars of diversity, equality, and free expression that should guide all institutions of higher learning.”