In response to a letter from activists and faculty criticizing Cudd's handling of calls to sever ties with Boeing, Cudd agreed to temporarily halt seeking or accepting any additional gifts or grants from Boeing. She intends to create a space for debate and dialogue on the matter before deciding further action. Courtesy of KBOO.

PSU community members demand divestment from Boeing

President Cudd pauses funding from Boeing

A group of Portland State students and faculty, alongside members of Democratic Socialists of America and Jewish Voice for Peace, hand-delivered a letter signed by over 1,300 students, faculty and community members to the office of President Ann Cudd in the Richard & Maurine Neuberger Center on April 22.


Though Cudd was not present in her office when the group delivered the letter, they were met by her executive assistant, and those present made statements captured on video by KBOO radio’s public affairs program “Old Mole Variety Hour.” 


In PSU Student Media’s March press conference, Cudd said the demands for PSU to cut ties with Boeing were arbitrary and she saw “no logical reason to cut ties with Boeing.” 


In an email sent out to PSU students and faculty on April 26, Cudd responded to the community letter and said it—along with the continued passionate demands by the PSU community—has motivated her to reexamine PSU’s relationship with Boeing and ask additional questions. 


The email explained PSU will host a forum in May where these concerns can be formally debated. During this two-hour moderated debate, which will include faculty and student voices, Cudd said she would participate by representing the perspective of academic ethics. 


“I want to share my thoughts on the matter and model the civil discourse and spirit of open inquiry that should guide any great university,” Cudd stated. 


Cudd stated that until PSU can agree on a reasonable course of action to proceed with this relationship, the administration will pause seeking or receiving additional funding from Boeing. 


Along with reexamining the university’s ties to Boeing, the community letter had requested Cudd “rescind the retaliatory measures taken against students over their peaceful protest at the Board of Trustees meeting on Jan. 26, and to cease any further investigation of students or faculty. The group Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER) has been placed on probation as a consequence of the Jan. 26 protest, and other disciplinary actions and investigations are ongoing.”


Cudd’s response explained she had heard the concerns surrounding the treatment of those engaged in protests on campus. According to Cudd, nobody involved in a protest has been sanctioned for the contents of their message. 


“PSU has always been and will remain a place where free speech and academic freedom are treasured,” Cudd’s email stated. “Our focus is on drawing a bright line between protecting freedom of speech and activities including discrimination, harassment, intimidation, property damage, and assault. We have reasonable time, place and manner restrictions in place — these are community standards so that our university can continue to be a place for learning, teaching, working and living” [emphasis in original].


Alexis Lisandro Guizar-Diaz—a Chicano doctoral student in environmental sociology, McNair scholar and interim President of the Graduate Employees Union of PSU—is currently facing an investigation by the university for being present at the Jan. 26 protest. Guizar-Diaz said that, as a public institution, PSU’s responsibility is to serve the people, and he called the relationship with Boeing disheartening and something which must be confronted, as students and community members have been demanding it for years. 


Yasmeen Hanoosh—an Iraqi-born professor of Arabic at PSU—is also under investigation for her presence at the protest. She feels like the university has not protected her First Amendment rights. “My own department was instructed to silence me when I began speaking against the mass killing and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza in October by suddenly instating university policies around the use of departmental listservs that prohibit discussion of ‘political content,’” Hanoosh said. “I am therefore heartened to see our PSU community and larger Portland community rise up in protest against PSU’s attempts to violate our academic freedom and First Amendment rights, and to call into question the egregious discrepancy between administrators’ words and deeds.”


Cudd said the university will continue to enforce these policies evenly for all campus events—including protests—and they expect community members to conduct themselves accordingly.