Op-ed: Statement from UM faculty and community to administration

Monday, November 5, 2018 - 5:43pm

Editor’s note: This petition by faculty and students at the University of Michigan was sent to University President Mark Schlissel, Provost Martin Philbert and interim LSA Dean Elizabeth Cole this morning.

We are writing as concerned members of the UM community in response to Dean Elizabeth Cole’s letter to Professor John Cheney-Lippold outlining disciplinary measures. We are also disturbed by the covert politicization of teaching and service evidenced in President Mark Schlissel’s and Provost Martin Philbert’s letter to the campus. Under the guise of separating political commitments from our role as educators, the university administration has taken a clear political stance against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Irrespective of faculty positions regarding BDS, the President, Provost and Dean’s disciplinary actions threaten academic freedom and have had a chilling effect on workplace morale. Rather than debating the merits of an important political issue of our time, the university has taken a side, and disparaged pro-BDS students, staff and faculty.

We stand in solidarity with others who have already expressed their disagreement with the administration. We agree with UM Professor Juan Cole, who wrote that it is not “the place of a university administration to coerce faculty or other instructors’ conscience on these issues, which are much more complex than they seem to realize.” We agree with Stanford University Professor David Palumbo-Liu, who wrote, “disciplining faculty who refuse to write letters opens up the possibility that universities will be turned into pawns of ideologically-driven organizations who target professors critical of their views.”

We stand with graduate students who have stated that such disciplinary measures set “an alarming, worrying and dangerous precedent for impinging on the protected political speech and action of employees of the University.”

We stand with signers of the Change.org petition who assert that such disciplinary actions promote the corporatization of education and thus trivialize our work as educators by “bypassing the educational mission of the university (...) and turning professors into simply service providers.”

The University of Michigan has always stood firm on the issues of academic freedom enshrined in the faculty handbook. We remain committed to this tradition and to educating thoughtful critical thinkers and citizens. We call on the administration to refrain from any disciplinary actions against graduate student Lucy Peterson and to drop the actions against Professor John Cheney-Lippold. We call on the University to include diverse voices in the new panel the provost has created to examine the intersection between political thought/ideology and faculty members’ responsibilities to students. We call on the University to affirm our shared institutional commitment to academic freedom.

Signed,

Samer Ali, Center for Middle Eastern & North African Studies, UM-Ann Arbor

Evelyn Alsultany, American Culture, Ann Arbor 

Sascha Crasnow, Residential College, Ann Arbor 

Su'ad Abdul Khabeer, American Culture 

Deirdre de la Cruz, Department of History, University of Michigan Ann Arbor 

Victor Mendoza, Women’s Studies and English, UM Ann Arbor 

Kate Jenckes, Romance Languages and Literatures, Ann Arbor 

Anton Shammas, MES, UM Ann Arbor 

Dr. Savithry Namboodiripad Linguistics/LS&A UMich Ann Arbor 

Manan Desai, American Culture and Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies, UM Ann Arbor 

Alan M. Wald, English and American Culture, U-M Collegiate Professor Emeritus (Ann Arbor Campus) 

Karla Mallette, Global Islamic Studies Center, U-M Ann Arbor 

Zoya Zalatimo, Middle Eastern Studies, Ann Arbor Campus 

J Carlos de Los Santos/RLL, Ann Arbor

Evyn Kropf, University Library, Ann Arbor 

Farah Kader, International Studies, UM Ann Arbor 

Melissa Phruksachart, Dept. of Film, Television, and Media, Ann Arbor 

Sergio Villalobos, RLL 

Ian Watts, Mechanical Engineering Department, College of Engineering 

Silan Fadlallah, Student LS&A, Ann Arbor 

Bushra Habbas-Nimer 

Mar Freire Hermida, Romance Languages and Literatures, Ann Arbor 

Howard Brick, Department of History, UM, Ann Arbor 

Sally Howell, Center for Arab American Studies, UM-Dearborn

Joshua Akers, Social Science, UM-Dearborn 

Angie Achkar, Undergraduate Student

Hani Bawardi, SSCI/HIST&AAST, UM-D 

Kevin Kobelsky, College of Business, Dearborn 

Dennis D. Pollard, Romance Languages, Ann Arbor

Antoine Traisnel, Departments of English and Comparative Literature, UM Ann Arbor 

Michael Lempert, Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) 

Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, American Culture/Romance Languages, LSA, Ann Arbor 

Pam Pennock, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters, UM-Dearborn 

Clare Croft, Dance, School of Music, Theatre & Dance 

Kristin Poling, Social Science Department, UM-Dearborn 

Jalal, LSA, Ann Arbor 

Andrew Shryock, Anthropology/LSA, Ann Arbor 

Daniel Andrew Birchok, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice, University of Michigan-Flint 

Elizabeth F.S. Roberts, Anthropology, LSA

Daniel Nemser, Romance Languages and Literatures, UM-Ann Arbor 

Bruce Pietrykowski, Social Sciences/CASL, UM-Dearborn 

Sara McClelland, Women's Studies & Psychology, Central Campus 

Nayli Ma, Asian Studies and Biology, Ann Arbor 

Katherine L. French-History-UM Ann Arbor 

Elif Izberk-Bilgin, Management Studies, UMD 

Janice Molloy, Management Studies, Dearborn 

Reem Khatib, LSA, UM Campus 

David Skrbina, LPA/Philosophy, Dearborn 

Maria Ulayyet, LSA, UM Ann Arbor 

Mary Kelley, Departments of History and American Culture, UM, Ann Arbor

Faith Sparr/Communication Studies 

Lisa Martin, College Wide Programs, UM-Dearborn 

Fatma Müge Göçek, Sociology/LS&A, UM Ann Arbor 

Suzanne Bergeron, University of Michigan Dearborn 

Juan Cole, History, University of Michigan Ann Arbor

Anna Watkins Fisher, American Culture, UM Ann Arbor 

H. Erdem Cipa, History & Middle East Studies, Ann Arbor 

Paolo Squatriti/History, Ann Arbor 

Osman Khan, Stamps School of Art & Design, Ann Arbor 

Roi Livne, Sociology, Ann Arbor 

Nancy A. Khalil, American Culture/AMAS, Ann Arbor 

Saquib Ali Usman, Anthropology, Ann Arbor

Will Glover, History, Ann Arbor

Rima Hassouneh/Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies & the Center for Southeast Asian Studies/UM-Ann Arbor 

Muniba Saleem/Communication Studies 

Holly Hughes, Professor, Stamps School of Art and Design, Theater and Drama and Women's Studies

Rebekah Modrak, Stamps School of Art & Design, Ann Arbor 

Andrew Herscher, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, UM Ann Arbor 

Javier Sanjines, Romance Languages and Literatures, UM Ann Arbor 

Rifaat Dika, Department of Language, Culture, and Communication-Dearborn 

Margaret K Willard-Traub, LCC, UM-Dearborn 

Rashmi Luthra, Department of Language, Culture and Communication, College of Arts, Sciences and Letter, University of Michigan-Dearborn campus 

Lara Rusch, Dept. of Social Sciences, UM-Dearborn 

Rose Wellman, Department of Behavioral Sciences, University of Michigan-Dearborn Patrick Beauchesne, Behavioral Sciences/Anthropology, Dearborn 

Brian McKenna, Behavioral Sciences, Anthropology 

Dr. Maya Barak, Criminology and Criminal Justice, UM-Dearborn 

Peggy McCracken, Romance Languages, Women's Studies, and Comparative Literature, Ann Arbor 

Stavroula Kyriazis, Ford School of Public Policy 

Giorgio Bertellini, Film, Television, and Media 

Holly Hughes, Professor, School of Art and Design 

Ian Shin, History & American Culture, Ann Arbor 

Maria Cotera, American Culture and Women's Studies 

Khaled Mattawa, English, Ann Arbor

Peggy Lee, American Culture, Ann Arbor 

Charlotte Karem Albrecht, American Culture, Women's Studies, Ann Arbor