Students and faculty members at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor have started an e-mail campaign to protest negative decisions in the tenure bid of Andrea L. Smith, who is interim director of the campus’s program in Native American studies.
Ms. Smith is an assistant professor with a joint appointment in Michigan’s American-culture program and women’s-studies department. The two programs split on her tenure bid, with American culture voting yes and women’s studies voting no. Then, last week, a panel in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts sided with women’s studies and voted to reject Ms. Smith’s bid. The decision now goes to the provost, Teresa A. Sullivan.
The e-mail in support of Ms. Smith asks people to send letters to the provost protesting the negative decisions. The message says Ms. Smith is “one of the greatest indigenous feminist intellectuals of our time.” The message does not name the students and professors who are supporting Ms. Smith, nor does it detail why her tenure bid was turned down. The message is circulating on several academic e-mail lists, including one for women’s studies, and has been echoed in the blogosphere at places like ThinkGirl.net and La Chola.
Valerie Traub, who leads women’s studies at Michigan, declined to talk about Ms. Smith’s bid or the department’s decision. “It’s a process internal to the University of Michigan,” she said.
Ms. Smith could not be reached for comment. She is the author of Conquest: Sexual Violence and the American Indian Genocide (South End Press, 2005) and Native Americans and the Christian Right: The Gendered Politics of Unlikely Alliances, which is being released next month by Duke University Press. She is also a co-founder of Incite! Women of Color Against Violence, which calls itself a “national activist organization of radical feminists of color advancing a movement to end violence against women of color.” —Robin Wilson