Brandeis Faculty Step Up to Defend Academic Freedom, Attack Administration

By February 7, 2008

The minutes of the Brandeis University Faculty Senate meeting last week show many serious steps that the faculty are taking in response to the mistreatment of professor Donald Hindley by Brandeis administrators such as Provost Marty Kraussand in the absence of any action on the part of the administration. The Senate discussion focused heavily on his case. The Senators unanimously approved several statements and pointed once again to administrators’ unrepentant violations of Brandeis policy in their prosecution of Professor Hindley.

(1) The Faculty Senate no longer supports Brandeis’s Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy because of “the violation of the understanding that was reached between the Office of Human Resources and the Faculty Senate in spring term 2006.” The Senate proposes a revision of the document, in part to clarify its relationship to Brandeis’s Faculty Handbook.

(2) The Senate intends to clarify the role of Brandeis’s Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities, apparently because of the Provost’s cavalier rejection of its recommendations in Hindley’s case.

(3) The Senate is insisting on academic freedom and has unanimously approved this excellent statement:

We call upon the faculty to be sensitive and respectful to students, but we draw attention to the Faculty Handbook and its guarantee of full freedom of academic scholarship and intellectual freedom of expression. This right is limited only by state and federal law.

(4) The Senate minutes state that “The Senate is in receipt of Provost Marty Krauss’s response to the CFRR’s report and many senators continue to have strong reservations with respect to her analysis.” The Senate is following up.

Looking forward, all of this looks pretty good, except that if certain administrators violated the rules before, why should they be trusted to follow the new rules? Will Marty Krauss just declare the next matter “closed” at her convenience in order to stop another appeal in its tracks? And there’s still the matter of correcting the injustice done to Professor Hindley.

Finally, here’s something the Brandeis trustees, who have been sent a letter from FIRE about this case, should note well:

The Chair reminded the Senate of issues that still need to be addressed. Among them: parking, Turnitin, the faculty website, updates on arming campus police, a proposal concerning leaves for senior faculty, and what course banking means for departments.

Because administrators have failed to accept their mistakes in prosecuting Professor Hindley, the important business of running and improving Brandeis University has been put off. The best way to put an end to this distraction is to set things right for Professor Hindley by exonerating him immediately. This necessary step also will help the faculty’s reforms proceed more smoothly.

Schools: Brandeis University