Author Archives: Claire Potter

September 2, 2014, 1:51 pm

Academic Freedom Update

Those of us who read our Twitter feed before bed (bad habit, don’t start) were cheered to see late last night that the pressure on the University of Illinois to reverse itself in the Steven Salaita case is altering the state of play. In a reversal of her August decision, Chancellor Phyllis Wise has decided to send the Salaita appointment to the Board if Trustees for a September 11 vote. Whether the pushback from thousands of scholars vowing not to engage and canceling, from the AAUP, and from numerous public letters of protest written by distinguished scholars ultimately persuades them that this was a colossal error is yet to be seen.  Go to Corey Robin for the full story, and for Robin’s views about what this latest development might mean.

Representatives of a major professional association have also weighed in on the case. Go to the American Historical Association blog to see a…

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August 30, 2014, 8:35 am

National AAUP Adds Heft to Salaita Case vs. UIUC

keep-calm-and-use-the-force-164In a letter I received as an email attachment last night, Anita Levy of the AAUP agrees with many of us that Steven Salaita was shafted (not the word she used.) Levy also points out that, although Salaita’s #HireFire is widely believed to be an outcome of his Tweets on Gaza, University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise gave him no reasons for her unwillingness to bring the appointment before the board of trustees, other than her belief that there would not be a positive vote. Most importantly, the idea that Salaita could not function ethically and effectively in the classroom, or as a colleague, is an argument that has been made entirely by public insinuation (see comments on my Salaita posts, for example.) It has no basis in fact, has never been formally articulated as a charge, and has not been investigated through the university’s own procedures.

Most importantly, the fact that…

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August 29, 2014, 10:09 am

Natalie Zemon Davis “Gets” Twitter, Supports Steven Salaita

800px-Natalie_Zemon_Davis

Natalie Zemon Davis being listened to.

Historian Natalie Zemon Davis has given us permission to distribute her letter to University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise. Davis asks Wise to reverse the decision not to appoint Steven Salaita to the job he was promised at UIUC, and explains why. Furthermore, in a not unexpected star turn, Davis demonstrates her complete understanding of social justice and the use of Twitter as a rhetorical tool.

It is no secret to long-term followers of Tenured Radical that I am a huge admirer of Davis. She is one of the founding mothers of women’s history, a long term member of the Princeton history department and now retired to an appointment at The University of Toronto. When I was a relatively new blogger, I wrote this post, in which I discussed how, and why, Davis had become …

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August 25, 2014, 1:08 pm

Could I Have Been Steven Salaita? Could You?

m-kennedy

Why is nobody inquiring about UI Board chair Christopher Kennedy’s role in the Salaita affair? Photo credit

Probably not. Of course. Maybe? Sure! Look at the number of distinguished people who have signed the general letter of support vowing not to engage with the University of Illinois until Steven Salaita is reinstated as an associate professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. We are talking about 1500 potential tenure referees who will not be available, for starters. Look at the impressively large number of faculty making a similar pledge under the rubric of “Un-tenured and Un-tenurable Faculty.” Go here to find and sign a letter.

What is responsible for this kumbaya moment in academia, one in which conservatives, liberals, libertarians and radicals, the contingent …

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August 8, 2014, 11:13 am

Why You Might Not Want to “Reply To All” (and Other Email Reforms)

e6c8_reply_allThere are lots of ways for university profs to waste their own, and everyone else’s, time, but email is a huge one. It has all the disadvantages of old-timey paper memos, as well as the capacity of social media to distract. Every once in a while on Facebook or on a blog, someone I e-know confesses to having upwards of four to five thousand emails in his or her inbox, awaiting an answer of some kind. Probably about 3/5 of these are utterly useless, past due documents. However, people are so afraid to look at what they haven’t done, as well as what they should do, that the emails just sit there and loom. At least a third of these messages will be the same email, in which everyone on the recipient list has hit “reply to all” multiple times.

To purge or not to purge: that is question. And if you purge without reading, much less responding, when you are drowning in email, is that a…

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August 6, 2014, 1:59 pm

Breaking News: BDS Intellectual is #HireFired for Social Media Crimes

housewife FBThis just in from Inside Higher Ed: a new chapter in the ongoing saga of BDS in American higher education begins with the #HireFire of a scholar who, like thousands of other people, used Twitter as his platform during the recent, bloody and undeclared war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

A major intellectual in the BDS movement, Steven G. Salaita (who is still listed as an associate professor in the English Department at Virginia Tech) appears to have had a job in the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Chanpagne rescinded because of his tweets about Gaza. Although I hope this is not the case, it appears that Salaita may be completely unemployed. Because of tweets.

Scott Jaschik writes that confirmation of a newly hired scholar’s appointment by the board of trustees is usually a formality:

The appointment was made public, and Salaita resigned…

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August 2, 2014, 7:09 pm

Do Attendance Policies Discriminate Against Disability?

Our Gang-School's OutLast week’s post on sending your kids off to college as independent souls hit a nerve. Read the comments for a lot of great conversation.

However, the blogger sillylegal, a recent graduate of a liberal arts college, thought the post was sorely lacking in its attention to the needs and rights of disabled students.  Perhaps it was, as I mentioned disability not at all, nor did I pay attention to the other ways that students are different from each other. I think sillylegal misread parts of the post, or perhaps just mischaracterized as we bloggers sometimes do when we write in haste, and I want to underline some choices I made when writing it. For example I deliberately did not use the phrase “helicopter parents” in the post, since the vast majority of parents mean well and it’s easier to reach people if you don’t mock them. For a similar reason, I did not characterize students who do…

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July 28, 2014, 1:06 pm

Bye-Bye Birdies: Sending The Kids Away to College

cartoon of dad and baby

They grow up so fast if you let them

All over the United States, slowly but surely, families are preparing for the ritual of Sending the Kid to College. Some will be living at home and going to a local four-year or community college; other young people will be taking the big leap to living away from home for the first time.

By September, one of the biggest topics for discussion — and one of the biggest gripes — among many college faculty will be how emotionally, and practically, underprepared many of your kids are for their freshman year. Although I now teach the non-traditional, adult students who are becoming the majority of undergraduates, for years I welcomed fresh-faced 18 year olds whose academic preparation often far exceeded their ability to navigate school independently of their parents.

The major…

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July 13, 2014, 3:49 pm

Inside the Red Zone: The College Rape Season

backtoschoolIt seems that we are once again talking about rape in the United States. For the first time since the 1970s, when radical feminist Susan Brownmiller published her blockbuster Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape (1975), public discussions about rape are moving to calls for action. I doubt that we will see the comprehensive attention to all forms of sexual violence, everywhere, that we saw forty years ago. We are, for example, seeing precious little analysis that links actually occurring sexual violence (as opposed to conservative pundit Christina Hoff Summers’ assertion that sexual assault is a problem manufactured by feminists) to larger forms of institutional violence, discrimination and exploitation.

Nevertheless, where there is talk, there is hope. In 2013, private colleges and universities were put on notice that tolerating dangerous student behavior has consequences when…

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July 7, 2014, 10:45 am

We Will Bring Everyone: Abolishing “The Box” and Administrative Violence at New York University

checkboxA few weeks ago, we at Tenured Radical were approached by The Incarceration to Education Coalition, a collective that seeks out, analyzes and strives to remove barriers to higher education. Recently, the group has been in discussions with New York University about “The Box,” a check off on the NYU application, and on The Common Application (a service intended to make higher education more accessible), that asks potential applicants to indicate whether they have ever been convicted of a crime.* This guest post has been written by the Collective.

“Don’t come to my games. Don’t bring Black people and don’t come”
Donald Sterling, Former NBA owner

African American males do not want to go to college. “It isn’t in the culture.”
Vice President of Enrollment Management, New York University

What The Incarceration to Education Coalition (IEC) calls “The Box” is a question…

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