Dear Chancellor Woodson,
We the undersigned, who are also members of California Scholars for Academic Freedom (CS4AF),* write to request that you give Terri Ginsberg the full grievance hearing that she first requested in 2008. In the four years that our group has been defending academic freedom, we have found that a preponderance of cases involve the Middle East or Middle Easternists. We are therefore especially vigilant when unpopular views about this region are coupled with failure to renew or award academic positions.
In a letter sent to at least two of our members, you acknowledge that “Dr. Ginsberg’s allegations regarding her employment at NC State University were raised in an internal grievance.” However, in your subsequent focus on the courts rather than the campus, you neglect to mention that her internal grievance was denied a hearing solely on the grounds of a technicality. Perhaps because you were not Chancellor at the time, you are unaware that this denial was reportedly described by Jim Martin, then Chair of the Faculty Senate, as “very disturbing and an unwise practice for the University” (Technician, July 16/December 8, 2008, http://www.technicianonline.com/news/professor-claims-unprotected-speech-1.1104494#.T- zihByQ1Ed).
Given the importance of academic freedom to the work of a university community, we concur that the denial of a hearing was disturbing and unwise. “Special faculty” do not have permanent positions, but they nevertheless have the same academic freedom rights as all other faculty, and therefore it is important that such faculty–and specifically Terri Ginsberg–be given an opportunity to bring a grievance to a hearing through the institutional channels of your university. The university can only gain by proving to its faculty that academic freedom is of paramount importance.
We urge you to reverse the decision of your predecessor, grant Dr. Ginsberg the grievance hearing she has requested, and restore to NCSU an atmosphere conducive to scholarly debate.
Below are the signatures of members who support this letter.
Katherine Callen King, Prof., Comparative Literature and Classics, UCLA
Sondra Hale, Prof. Emerita, Anthropology and Women’s Studies, UCLA
Nouri Gana, Assoc. Prof., Comparative Literature, UCLA
Judith Stevenson, Director, Peace and Social Justice Program, CSULB
Mark LeVine, Prof., History, UCI
Ismail Poonawala, Prof., Arabic and Islamic Studies, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, UCLA
Richard Falk, Research Prof., Global Studies, UCSB
Judy Olson, Lecturer, English, CSULA
Gabriel Piterberg, Prof., History, UCLA
Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Prof. of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature, UCB
David Delgado Shorter, Assoc. Prof., and Vice-Chair, World Arts and Cultures, UCLA
David Klein, Prof. Mathematics and Director CSUN Climate Science Program, CSUN
Samera Esmeir, Asst. Prof., Rhetoric, UCB
Claudio Fogu, Assoc. Prof., French and Italian Studies, UCSB
Joel Beinin, Prof., History, Stanford
Edie Pistolesi, Prof., Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication, CSUN
Farah Godrej, Assoc. Prof., Political Science, UCR
Baki Tezcan, Assoc. Prof. History and Religious Studies, UCD
Gillian Hart, Prof. Geography, UCB
Lisa Hajjar, Assoc. Prof. Sociology, UCSB
Michael Cooperson, Prof., Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, UCLA
Gerry Hale, Emeritus Prof., Geography, UCLA
Gary Fields, Assoc. Prof. Communication, UCSD
Mary Hussein, Lecturer, Mass Communications and Journalism, CSUF
Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhyadi, Assoc. Prof., Ethnic Studies and Race and Resistance Studies, SFSU
Dennis Kortheuer, Lecturer, History, CSULB
Jess Ghannam, Clinical Prof., Psychiatry and Global Health Sciences, UCSF
Manzar Forooha, History, California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo
Rush Rehm, Prof., Drama and Classics, Artistic Director, Stanford Summer Theater
Nancy Gallagher, Prof., History, UCSB
Ahlam Muhtaseb, Assoc. Prof. Communication Studies, CSUSB
Rose Marie Kuhn, Prof., Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, CSUF
David Lloyd, Prof., English, UCD
Lisa Rofel, Prof., Anthropology, UCSC
Khaled Abou El Fadl, Omer and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Prof. of Islamic Law, UCLA
Aranye Fradenberg, Prof., English, UCSB
Vida Samiian, Dean, College of Arts and Humanities, CSUF
Stephen Zunes, Prof., Politics and Chair, Middle East Studies, University of San Francisco
Ece Algan, Asst. Prof., Communication Studies, CSUSB
Paola Bacchetta, Assoc. Prof., Gender and Women’s Studies, UCB
Kevin Anderson, Prof., Sociology, UCSB
Mohammad Azadpur, Assoc. Prof., Philosophy, SFSU
*CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM is a four-year-old group of more than 140 academics who teach in over 20 California institutions of higher education. The group formed as a response to a rash of violations of academic freedom that were arising from both the post-9/11/2001 climate of civil rights violations and to the increasing attacks on progressive educators by neo-conservatives. Many attacks were aimed at scholars of Arab, Muslim or Middle Eastern descent or at scholars researching and teaching about the Middle East, Arab and Muslim communities. Our goal of protecting California Scholars and students based mainly in institutions of higher education has grown broader in scope. We recognize that violations of academic freedom anywhere are threats to academic freedom everywhere.