University of Virginia’s Statement of Solidarity for JNU

We, the undersigned students and faculty at the University of Virginia, stand in solidarity with the staff, students, and faculty at Jawarharlal University (JNU), New Delhi. We share the outrage of citizens around the world who are aggrieved at the Modi government’s criminalization of student protest and dissent. Further, we are extremely concerned by the government’s cavalier suppression of dissent as ‘sedition’ and ‘anti-national’. Freedom of speech and expression are cornerstones in any democracy. Citizens’ rights to express a plurality of beliefs and contrary opinions are essential to enabling a free, tolerant, and just society. We thus condemn the arrest, detention, and prosecution of students, including Kanhaiya Kumar (President of JNU Students Union), who have exercised this fundamental right on the JNU campus.

We also condemn the state’s wanton use of police and legal powers to subdue the rights of students to gather peaceably and debate their political beliefs. We are concerned that the persecution of students at JNU is galvanized by the state’s general repression of minorities, most notably evidenced in the tragic suicide of the Dalit student Rohith Vemula at the University of Hyderabad and the controversial execution of Afzal Guru. We value the resilience of the members of the JNU community who are now in the midst of the struggle. We also recognize the ties between the crackdown at JNU and other similar virulent state actions against some of India’s most excellent institutions of higher education: Jadavpur University, Kolkata; the University of Hyderabad; Film and Television Institute of India; and others. JNU’s preeminent reputation in India as an institution that fosters path-breaking scholarship, social activism, and critical thought is truly global. It is our hope that this statement of solidarity, by reaching across boundaries, affirms the exalted regard with which JNU is held in the international community of scholars.

In order to ensure that JNU can carry on with its educational mission, we urge the Government of India to remedy the situation immediately. To this end, we ask that the students arrested under false charges of ‘sedition’ be released immediately, that all charges against them be dropped, and that police incursions into campus activities cease. We call on the Vice Chancellor of JNU to uphold the university’s global reputation for safeguarding free and independent thought by protecting its most vulnerable members and students.

Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the University of Virginia aspires to extend universally the rights of equality, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness imagined by its founder. Even so, UVA continues to face its own struggles against discrimination based on race, class, religion, gender, and sex. It is in the name of these struggles on our own historic Grounds that members of this university find it urgent to speak out in solidarity with JNU and against the suppression of minority voices in India.


1. Mrinalini Chakravorty
Associate Professor of English

2. Michael Levenson
William B. Christian Professor of English

3. Rita Felski
William R Kenan, Jr. Professor of English

4. Richard Barnett
Associate Professor of History

5. Laura Goldblatt
Doctoral Graduate, Department of English

6. Maya Hislop
PhD Candidate, Department of English

7. Marva A. Barnett, Founding Director & Professor
Center for Teaching Excellence, University of Virginia

8. Emily Ogden
Assistant Professor of English

9. Austin Hetrick
PhD Candidate, English

10. Jane Alison
Professor and Director of Creative Writing
Department of English

11. Christopher Krentz
Associate Professor of English

12. Kevin Hart
Edwin B Kyle Professor of Christian Studies

13. Allan Megill
Professor of History
14. Walter Jost
Professor of English

15. Stephen Arata
Professor and Chair
Department of English

16. Gustavo Pellón
Associate Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature

17. Jennifer Tsien
Associate Professor of French

18. Sara Mohamed Khalil
University of Virginia Class of 2017
College of Arts and Sciences

20. David Herman
Associate Professor
Chair, Dept. of Slavic Langs. & Lits.

18. Karen Chase Levenson
Linden Kent Memorial Professor of English

19. Herbert Tucker
John C. Coleman Professor of English

20. Katelyn Durkin
PhD Candidate, English

21. Debjani Ganguly
Professor of English
Director of the Institute of Humanities and Global Cultures

22. Elizabeth Fowler
Associate Professor of English

23. H.L. Seneviratne
Emeritus Professor of Anthropology

24. John Bugbee
PhD Candidate, Department of Religious Studies

25. Sandhya Shukla
Associate Professor of English and Director of American Studies

26. Sophie Abramowitz
PhD Student, English

27. Eva Latterner
PhD Student, English

28. Andrew Taylor
PhD Student, Religious Studies

29. Nathan Swami
Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering

30. Geeta Patel
Associate Professor & Director, UVA in India Program
Department of Middle Eastern & South Asian Languages Cultures;
Program in Women Gender & Sexuality Studies

31. Susan Fraiman
Professor of English

32. Alyssa Collins
PhD Student, English

33. George Derk
PhD Candidate, English

34. Jennifer Wicke
Professor of English

35. William Rhodes
PhD Candidate, English

36. Madeline Zehnder
PhD Student, English

37. David Germano
Professor of Buddhist Studies

38. Andrew Johnson
Graduate Student, English

39. Siva Vaidhyanathan
Robertson Professor of Media Studies

40. Jacqueline Cieslak
Doctoral Student, Department of Anthropology

41. Anna Brickhouse
Professor of English

42. Susan McKinnon
Professor of Anthropology

43. Nomi Dave
Assistant Professor, Department of Music

44. Paul Turowski
PhD Candidate, Department of Music

45. Saad Quasem
Graduate Student, Department of Anthropology

46. Aldona Dye
PhD Student, Department of Music

47. Jerome S. Handler
Senior Scholar, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

48. Sarah Winstein-Hibbs
PhD Student, English

49. Antonia LoLordo
Professor of Philosophy

50. Lawrie Balfour
Professor of Politics

51. Carol Mershon
Professor of Politics

52. Bonnie Gordon
Associate Professor, Department of Music

53. Jahan Ramazani
University Professor and Edgar F. Shannon Professor of English

54. Caroline Rody
Professor of English

55. Sheena Singh
Doctoral Student, Department of Anthropology

56. David Leblang
J Wilson Newman Professor of Governance
Chair, Department of Politics

57. Annie Galvin
PhD Candidate, English

58. Kath Weston
Professor of Anthropology

59. Jap-Nanak Makkar
PhD Candidate, Department of English

60. John Nemec
Associate Professor of Religious Studies

61. Karen Huang
Doctoral Student, Department of English

62. Lucila Figueroa
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Politics

63. Denise Walsh
Associate Professor, Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics;
Women, Gender & Sexuality

64. Sylvia Chong
Associate Professor of English

65. James Igoe
Associate Professor of Anthropology

66. Neeti Nair
Associate Professor of History

67. Anastasia Curley
PhD Candidate, English

68. China Scherz
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology

69. Janet Horne, Associate Professor of French

70. Lisa Goff, Lecturer, Arts and Sciences

71. Paul D. Halliday
Julian Bishko Professor of History and Professor of Law
Chair, Corcoran Department of History

72. Andrew W. Kahrl
Assistant Professor of History

73. Brad Reed
Associate Professor of History

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