Dear The Michigan Daily,

Congratulations on your raising interest in and coverage of the elections to the Department of Public Safety Oversight Committee, a topic that had fallen sadly into disregard for some years, to the detriment of both students and faculty. It is impeccable timing on your part that students have revitalized their interest in DPS oversight just as University of California campuses — Berkeley and, horrifically, Davis so far — face a mounting wave of university-sanctioned violent reaction to peaceful protests on public school campuses.

It is important that those on the DPS Oversight Committee guard preemptively against such violent reactions on the part of the University’s DPS, and you call upon administrators responsible for DPS to state unequivocally before things reach a boiling point here that such reactions will not be tolerated at the University of Michigan.

In a similar vein, please support faculty such as UC-Davisʼs Nathan Brown, the faculty organizer of the protest which was attacked, who wrote a courageous, personal open letter criticizing the role of Chancellor Linda Katehi — former University of Michigan electrical engineering and computer science professor — in the pepper-spraying and clubbing of peaceful protesters on campus, and calling for her immediate resignation as has the Board of the Davis Faculty Association. I say courageous because Brown is an untenured assistant English professor at UC-Davis, and it has woefully happened many times in the past that critics without the protection of tenure have suffered reprisals — even to the point of dismissal at institutions of the caliber of UC-Davis — for actions of far less public éclat.

Just as with your timely position on DPS, I encourage you to get out in front by casting the spotlight on the case of Nathan Brown — lest a thoughtful and passionate faculty defender of the right to free expression on campus be sanctioned by an embarrassed administration which has lost the confidence of its student body and faculty.

The University of Michigan American Association of University Professors is calling upon faculty everywhere to maintain a vigil of protection around Brown in the name of academic freedom and the faculty’s right to share in university governance. We would appreciate any help we can get from students who agree with the need to protect faculty leaders like Brown.

Dan Burns
Interim president of the University of Michigan American Association of University Professors chapter

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