University of California, Santa Barbara: Professor Investigated for Sending E-Mail to Class
UCSB subjected Professor William Robinson to a months-long investigation after he sent the students in his Sociology of Globalization class an e-mail comparing the Nazi treatment of Jews with Israel's actions towards Palestinians. Although students were not required to read, discuss, or agree with the content of Robinson's e-mail, two students filed formal complaints. The resulting outside pressure threatened Robinson's academic freedom and free speech. FIRE argued that the initial assessment of the students' claims should have led to immediate dismissal of the complaint since the single e-mail was both protected expression and relevant to the course. The investigating committee recommended dismissing the case, but the matter remained in UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang's hands for several weeks. Soon after FIRE and other groups wrote Chancellor Yang, the charges against Robinson were dropped.
- "Victory for Academic Freedom at University of California–Santa Barbara," June 24, 2009: University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) has just notified Professor William Robinson that it is no longer pursuing charges against him for sending an e-mail to his Sociology of Globalization class which offended students and critics both within and outside the university. Exactly two weeks after FIRE wrote UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang, the university's Charges Committee reported that it "did not find probable cause to undertake disciplinary action." Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas informed Robinson that "this matter is now terminated." This is a victory for all faculty members at UCSB, who now are less likely to self-censor in fear that complaints about their relevant class communications might be transformed into unconstitutional months-long investigations.
- "Letter to Professor William Robinson from UCSB Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas," June 24, 2009
- "Response to FIRE from David M. Birnbaum, UCSB Deputy General Counsel-Educational Affairs and Campus Services," June 16, 2009
- "FIRE Letter to University of California–Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry T. Yang," June 10, 2009
- "Campus Procedures for Enforcement of the Faculty Code of Conduct," June 6, 2006
- "Victory for Academic Freedom at University of California–Santa Barbara," by Adam Kissel, June 26, 2009
- "Greg in ‘Huffington Post’ on the Conclusion of UCSB’s Investigation of Professor Robinson," by Claire Jenkins, June 25, 2009
- "FIRE Defends a Professor—And One of His Fiercest Critics—On the Same Day," by Adam Kissel, June 11, 2009
- "No charges, no end in e-mail fight,"
by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, June 25, 2009
- "UC Santa Barbara ends investigation of professor for anti-Israel e-mail,"
by Greg Lukianoff, The Huffington Post, June 24, 2009
- "East coast advocacy group backs embattled UCSB professor ,"
by Ben Preston, Santa Barbara Independent, June 19, 2009
- "FIRE protests UC Santa Barbara's investigation of Professor Robinson,"
by Greg Lukianoff, The Huffington Post, June 10, 2009