Monday, August 27, 2007

Finkelstein threatens "nonviolent civil disobedience"

I must say that this has been one of the more enjoyable Elders operations:
When DePaul University rejected Norman Finkelstein’s bid for tenure in June, all the documents in the very divided review of his record suggested no dispute over the high quality of his teaching. The tenure denial also said that Finkelstein would receive a contract for this coming academic year — the "terminal year" contract that is standard for colleges to offer those who have been denied tenure.

But DePaul is having second thoughts on letting Finkelstein have a terminal year. It has canceled his classes, even though students were registered and excited about them, and the university told him that he cannot have an office. The latest actions by DePaul — which already is being criticized by faculty groups for the initial tenure denial — have added to the anger about the situation. And Finkelstein is vowing to show up, teach and use his old office.

In an e-mail interview, he said: "If the university attempts to impede my movements I intend to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience and go to jail. If incarcerated I intend to go on a protracted hunger strike until DePaul comes to its senses.
What if it "comes to its senses" right away and decides that whether he eats or not is his problem?
It is regrettable that I have been driven to such drastic actions to defend basic principles of academic freedom and my contractual rights, upon which DePaul has been riding roughshod for so long."

"This just seems so unjust and ridiculous," said Daniel Klimek, a rising senior in political science and one of the students recently informed by the university that Finkelstein’s course "Equality and Social Justice" was among those called off. Klimek said that he had felt honored to be in one of Finkelstein’s final courses at DePaul, and that the cancellation reinforced his view that "this is all about politics." Klimek is among the organizers of the DePaul Academic Freedom Committee, which has been organizing protests against the tenure denial.

John K. Wilson, on his blog College Freedom, wrote: "If anyone doubted whether DePaul was violating Finkelstein’s rights, that doubt must end with this decision.... Even if DePaul pays off Finkelstein, it is violating his academic freedom (and the freedom of its students) by refusing to let him teach and effectively silencing his voice in its classrooms."

DePaul is in fact paying Finkelstein his full pay and benefits, but has placed him on administrative leave for the academic year, which means he is relieved of teaching responsibilities. [...]
He could guest-lecture to Nadia El-Hajj's students. (Hat Tip: Martin Kramer)

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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