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TSE  December 2014

TSE December 2014

Subject:

Re: Video: Steven Salaita Speaks About His Termination (was RE: Barry Spurr resigns)

From:

Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Sat, 20 Dec 2014 21:05:58 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (40 lines)

Dear Carrol,
First of all, no one fired Spurr; he resigned. Second, nothing I said in any way supported or justified the firing of tenured faculty; I wrote in astonishment that anyone would treat his hate speech as less than deeply wrong, and I stand by that.
It was Sydney University, by the way.
"Professor Spurr was appointed the first ever professor of Australian poetry at Sydney University, the country's oldest university, in 2011. "
At my university, 25 tenured faculty have been summarily fired by an interim president with no academic background--with no claim to justification except an assertiong of financial need, despite a refusal to state financial exigency. AAUP has protested, but there has been no concern in our press. I am hardly likely to say or have said the Spurr should have been fired from a tenured position, and I agree completely that tenure must be protected for all the same reasons.
I said his resignation was a good thing and even a cause for celebration, and I stand by that also. Anyone who clearly says such things about whole groups who will likely be his students has utterly failed his responsibility to his students and to the society. Being a professor has some social responsibility as well as protection. The emails said the following things:

"Australia's inaugural professor of poetry, Barry Spurr, has resigned from Sydney University over a series of racist and sexist language emails in which he called women "whores", Tony Abbott an "Abo-lover" and referred to Aboriginal people as "human rubbish tips".

The embarrassing emails were published in October by New Matilda, an Australian website, and prompted the suspension of Professor Spurr, an Oxford-educated academic and expert on T S Eliot. He claimed the emails were "linguistic play" and were part of a contest with a colleague in which they tried to outdo each other by making incendiary statements.

The emails spanned two years and referred to Nelson Mandela as a "darky", described the university's chancellor Belinda Hutchinson as "an appalling minx", and claimed that the "modern Brit" was "the scum of the earth". He also joked about "Mussies" and "Chinky poos". The emails were sent from his university email address."


So this is not at all about tenure or breaking tenure or--as far as I can see--"forced resignation," at least that is not said in the article cited here. What I said was about his speech and about the recognition that it is offensive and wrong and not a minor issue. Nothing I said in any way would be relevant to firing Salaita. 
Nancy







>>> Carrol Cox  12/20/14 7:25 PM >>>
"Steven Salaita speaks publicly for the first time since his controversial and unceremonious firing by U of I Chancellor Phyllis Wise."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgAvNE-wfYo

---------

I agree with Nancy's comments on Sturr as an individual; I would support, for example, students chasing him off campus or disrupting his classes. In the past I organized a successful effort at Illinois State to disrupt an appearance on campus of a South African Consul and drive him from the podium. I aided efforts elsewhere to drive Shcckley from campuses where he attempted to speak. I was among some 12 people who in 1968 tried to prevent Herbert Humphrey from speaking on the ISU  campus: he had to step over our prone bodies on his way to the auditorium. So I do not make a fetish of free speech. But tenure is a very special issue. Its history goes back to the firing of university faculty in the U.S. for opposing U.S.  entry into the criminal butchery of the Great War.

Tenure for university professors is most often needed as protection for those with politics similar to my own or those of Professor Salaita. (I would prefer instant job security for all university employees from kitchen aids to full professors -- but that is another issue for another occasion.) Hence despite my agreement with Nancy's comments on the man, I think his forced resignation by a* university was unacceptable. For crucial political reasons tenure university faculty needs to be defended unequivocally.

Carrol

*I have not followed the Spurr saga & don't even remember which university he taught at.


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