How Can Brandeis University Get Off FIRE’s Red Alert List?
August 26, 2009
Over the last few days, FIRE has been driving home reminders about the dire state of free speech at Brandeis University, whose misdeeds we featured in not one but two major print advertisements. In addition to being highlighted as one of the six schools on FIRE's Red Alert list in our full-page ad in U.S. News & World Report for a second straight year, FIRE also took out a prominent ad in the Brandeis student newspaper The Justice, as Greg announced earlier today on The Huffington Post.
Prospective matriculants should think twice about applying to Brandeis upon seeing the U.S. News ad, and current Brandeis students and faculty—whose heated opposition to the administration's grave wrongs has been admirable—will be reminded that the fight for free expression is not yet over.
The problem began in fall 2007, when Brandeis professor Donald Hindley critiqued the term "wetbacks" in his Latin American Politics course. Without following Brandeis' stated policies and procedures, and without ever laying out the evidence against him, Brandeis administrators declared him guilty of racially discriminatory harassment and then placed a monitor in his classes for the remainder of the term. In spite of widespread condemnation from faculty, the media, students, and the public, the Brandeis administration has remained unrepentant about its mistreatment of Professor Hindley. The faculty fought back, withdrawing faculty support for the university's harassment and non-discrimination policy, suspending the hearing of new faculty grievances because they could no longer trust in the good faith of the administration, and commenting on the atmosphere of intimidation that has persisted on campus under Provost Marty Krauss and President Jehuda Reinharz. The Brandeis administration, as Robert has pointed out, has essentially been at "war" against its faculty.
So how can Brandeis finally get off the Red Alert list—where it has dwelled since February 2008—and spare itself further embarrassment? As FIRE has said over and over again, the solution is simple.
All Brandeis has to do to get off the list is to finally deliver justice to Professor Hindley. Come on, President Reinharz, how hard is it to acknowledge that the Faculty Senate has a point? How hard is it to acknowledge that the Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities, which had full access to the details of the case, found that serious mistakes of both process and policy interpretation were made in the prosecution of Hindley? It is probably too late to go back to the beginning and give Hindley all the due process—not to mention the respect for his liberties—that he legally and morally deserved. Take back the wrongheaded letter that declared Hindley guilty of making "inappropriate, racial, and discriminatory" statements in class. End this absurd abuse of academic freedom and reverse the finding of guilt once and for all.