Thursday, January 27, 2011

Islamophobia at CUNY: Provost Cancels Appointment of Brooklyn College Adjunct

CUNY Provost Intervenes To Cancel Appointment of Controversial Brooklyn College Professor: Grave Implications For Academic Freedom

Kristofer Petersen-Overton, a political science doctoral student at the CUNY Graduate Center, has been fired from his position as an adjunct professor at Brooklyn College one week before his course on Middle East politics was slated to begin.

The case was taken up by the Brooklyn College administration after a student enrolled in his course raised concerns that Mr. Petersen-Overton's alleged pro-Palestinian bias would prevent him from conducting a balanced seminar. The student expressed these concerns with the political science department but agreed not to pursue further action until after the course actually began. However, this student contacted state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who then characterized Mr. Petersen-Overton as "pro-suicide bomber" in a letter to the college President.

In a response sent to Hamodia newspaper on Wednesday, Mr. Petersen-Overton expressed concerns "that a state official would denounce my work so strongly without, apparently, having offered it more than a cursory reading. [Hikind's] press release … is slander pure and simple." Mr. Petersen-Overton emphasized that his work has little to do with suicide bombers and that Mr. Hikind deliberately twisted his conclusions to make it appear otherwise.

"I was not contacted by Brooklyn College administration at any time during their decision-making process. This politically motivated action undermines CUNY's longstanding legacy as a stalwart defender of academic freedom," Mr. Petersen-Overton said.

The allegations against Mr. Petersen-Overton center on time he spent in the Gaza Strip working for the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and on an unpublished scholarly paper that analyzes the symbolic place of martyrdom in Palestinian nationalism. Petersen-Overton's detractors also took issue with the fact that, according to his personal website, he still maintains "close contact" with the Palestinian activist community.
Mr. Petersen-Overton's academic work deals broadly with issues of identity formation in Israel and Palestine.

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kristofer j. petersen-overton
adjunct professor of political science \\ brooklyn college \\
doctoral student \\ political science \\ cuny graduate center \\
online info \\ \\ homepage \\
call me \\ +1 347 837 7635 \\

Action Alert:
Professor Kristopher Petersen-Overton has asked the CUNY community and others to write letters to the Brooklyn College Provost directly to express their concern.

The official reason BC’s administration has provided is that the Professor does not yet have a PhD and was teaching in an MA program. As conversation on the GC’s Political Science list demonstrated this morning, more than half those teaching in Brooklyn’s MA program do not have doctorates and it’s unclear how the program could be staffed without the labor of ABD contingents.

Time is of the essence to save Professor Kristopher's job. Please write to:

Office of the Provost (William A. Tramontano)
Brooklyn College
2900 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11210

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