University of California, Santa Barbara: Professor Investigated for Sending E-Mail to Class

Category: Due Process
Schools: University of California, Santa Barbara

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.

  • No charges, no end in e-mail fight

    June 25, 2009

    In a limited sense, the case of William I. Robinson is over. On Wednesday, he was notified that a faculty committee had found no “probable cause” to undertake a full investigation of complaints filed against him related to e-mail messages he sent to his students in which he compared Israelis and Nazis. Further, he was notified that the administration at the University of California at Santa Barbara had accepted the faculty members’ analysis, and that the case was over — without his ever having faced formal charges before a disciplinary committee. Supporters of Robinson, a tenured professor of sociology, agreed […]

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  • East coast advocacy group backs embattled UCSB professor

    June 19, 2009

    While an ad hoc charges committee of UCSB’s Academic Senate looks into accusations of faculty misconduct against William Robinson – the professor who sent out an e-mail in January comparing the Israeli occupation of Gaza with the Nazi’s handling of the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II – the Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UCSB has been working overtime trying to prove that Robinson was within his right to send the email. The committee, which was formed shortly after complaints were filed by two students in January, recently enlisted the help of the Pennsylvania-based Foundation for Individual Rights in […]

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  • FIRE protests UC Santa Barbara’s investigation of Professor Robinson

    June 10, 2009

    by Greg Lukianoff The Huffington Post   Back in May, I reported on the case of William I. Robinson, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara who is being investigated for writing his students an e-mail comparing the Nazi treatment of Jews with Israel’s actions towards Palestinians. At that point the investigation seemed somewhat tentative and I had hoped that cooler heads would prevail. But, while my work does produce the occasional pleasant surprise, this was not to be. Therefore my organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), sent a letter to UCSB today asking it […]

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  • Victory for Academic Freedom at University of California–Santa Barbara

    June 26, 2009

    University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) has 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 […]

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  • Greg in ‘Huffington Post’ on the Conclusion of UCSB’s Investigation of Professor Robinson

    June 25, 2009

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff has posted his third, and hopefully last, blog entry on Professor William I. Robinson’s case at UC Santa Barbara on The Huffington Post. The controversy began when Professor Robinson sent around an e-mail to the students in his Sociology of Globalization class comparing the Nazi treatment of Jews with Israel’s actions towards Palestinians. The three blogs Greg has written document the case, FIRE’s involvement, and finally the verdict which was sent to us yesterday afternoon. Fortunately, Professor Robinson is no longer under investigation. As Greg put it: Stripped of the jargon of sociology and the politicization […]

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  • 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 […]

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  • UC Santa Barbara ends investigation of professor for anti-Israel e-mail

    June 24, 2009

    Since late April I have been following the case of Professor William I. Robinson at UCSB, who became the subject of an official university investigation after sending the students in his Sociology of Globalization class an e-mail comparing the Nazi treatment of Jews with Israel’s actions towards Palestinians. The e-mail ignited a firestorm of controversy and led the university to launch the investigation. Exactly two weeks ago, my organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), sent a letter protesting the investigation of Professor Robinson for speech that, in our professional estimation, was protected by academic freedom. Today Professor […]

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  • FIRE Defends a Professor—And One of His Fiercest Critics—On the Same Day

    June 11, 2009

    Yesterday, FIRE sent out two letters. One, as Greg noted at The Huffington Post, was in defense of William Robinson, a University of California, Santa Barbara, professor who has been under investigation for months after writing his students an e-mail comparing the Nazi treatment of Jews with Israel’s actions towards Palestinians. The other letter was in defense of a student group that had brought conservative activist David Horowitz—whose organization is one of Robinson’s fiercest critics—to a different campus. The student group was charged for extra security for Horowitz’s visit simply because Horowitz was deemed “controversial.” (He had criticized some of […]

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