Friday, January 28, 2011

Sign Petition to Save Academic Freedom at Brooklyn College and CUNY!

Please sign the petition from The Advocate in support of Professor Kristofer Petersen-Overton at Brooklyn College:

Here is The NY Times article about it.

Petition to Defend Academic Freedom at Brooklyn College

by Advocate Staff

We, the under­signed, are writ­ing to express our deep con­cern for the pre­car­i­ous state of aca­d­e­mic free­dom at Brook­lyn Col­lege, CUNY and the City Uni­ver­sity of New York sys­tem more broadly.

Just a week before the start of spring semes­ter classes, Kristofer Petersen-Overton was fired from his posi­tion as an adjunct lec­turer of polit­i­cal sci­ence at Brook­lyn Col­lege. The move came fol­low­ing a com­plaint from a prospec­tive stu­dent in Peterson-Overton's sched­uled Mid­dle East Pol­i­tics course that the instructor's "pro-Palestinian" bias would pre­clude him from objec­tively teach­ing the sub­ject. After com­plain­ing to the school admin­is­tra­tion the stu­dent then con­tacted New York State Assem­bly­man Dov Hikind, who in turn wrote to the pres­i­dent of Brook­lyn Col­lege express­ing his con­cerns about the course read­ing list. In that let­ter, Hikind labeled Peterson-Overton as "pro-suicide bomber." Hours later, the provost of Brook­lyn Col­lege dis­missed Petersen-Overton on grounds that, as a doc­toral stu­dent, he was insuf­fi­ciently qual­i­fied to teach grad­u­ate courses at the col­lege. This move came despite the fact that many grad­u­ate stu­dents in sev­eral depart­ments cur­rently teach and have taught master's level courses at Brook­lyn Col­lege over the years. Given these cir­cum­stances, it is clear that Peterson-Overton's dis­missal had noth­ing to do with his qual­i­fi­ca­tions, but was the prod­uct of polit­i­cal pres­sure from forces out­side the university.

The college's actions are a clear vio­la­tion of aca­d­e­mic free­dom, includ­ing the university's own offi­cial pol­icy, which states that the "office of a chan­cel­lor, pres­i­dent, or other admin­is­tra­tor can­not be used to com­pro­mise the aca­d­e­mic free­dom of other mem­bers of the uni­ver­sity com­mu­nity." There­fore, we demand that Peterson-Overton be fully re-instated in his posi­tion, and that his course on Mid­dle East Pol­i­tics be allowed to pro­ceed as orig­i­nally designed. More­over, we insist that Peterson-Overton not face any future sanc­tions, and that he be judged hence­forth solely on the basis of his teach­ing abil­i­ties and the qual­ity of his aca­d­e­mic work.

Fur­ther­more, we demand a for­mal, pub­lic apol­ogy from the Brook­lyn Col­lege admin­is­tra­tion, includ­ing Pres­i­dent Karen Lee Gould and Provost William A. Tra­mon­tano for their ille­git­i­mate actions and bor­der­line incom­pe­tence in deal­ing with this matter.

We also call for a for­mal pledge from the uni­ver­sity to pro­tect the aca­d­e­mic free­dom of all of its employ­ees irre­spec­tive of sta­tus, stature, and rank, espe­cially con­tin­gent fac­ulty like Petersen-Overton, who receive none of the pro­tec­tions of tenure despite the fact that they teach the major­ity of courses at the City Uni­ver­sity of New York.

We ask that all these demands be met imme­di­ately and with­out compromise.

James Hoff, EIC The GC Advocate
Michael Busch, Man­ag­ing Edi­tor The GC Advocate

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