FIRE’s Letter to Brandeis Trustee Kenneth S. Kaiserman

By July 21, 2008

July 21, 2008

Kenneth S. Kaiserman, President
Kaiserman Company, Inc.
201 South 18th Street, Suite 300
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103-5997

Sent via U.S. Mail and Facsimile (215-546-6628)

RE: PROFESSOR DONALD HINDLEY

Dear Mr. Kaiserman:

Thank you for your early response to my letter of July 9. I appreciate the efforts you have taken to apprise yourself of the situation regarding Professor Hindley. However, I believe the information you have gathered from sources at Brandeis may be in error.

Our evidence for what FIRE has called a “revolt” seems to us to be stronger than the anecdotal evidence you indicate that you have gathered through your conversations. On the faculty side, our evidence includes many unanimous resolutions by the Faculty Senate criticizing the administration’s response to the Hindley situation, as well as the Faculty Senate’s decision to withdraw support for the university’s harassment policy and the decision by the Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities (CFRR) to suspend the hearing of new faculty grievances. Moreover, when the faculty asked Provost Krauss for a budget item to be used for the legal defense of faculty in situations like Hindley’s, Krauss rejected the request. This is more than a breakdown in faculty-administration relations; it is open hostility, and it includes specific actions by the faculty against the administration.

On the student side, the evidence includes the student demonstration on April 10, 2008, as well as a fair amount of criticism of the administration on the part of The Brandeis Hoot and The Justice.

If you mean, however, that “revolt” is not taking place because many Brandeis faculty members now feel so intimidated that they fear making any sort of criticism of the Reinharz administration, you may well be correct. Putting faculty in a state of fear is enormously detrimental to the health of any university.

Regarding the “complications and subtleties” of this case to which you refer, I hasten to point out that the CFRR had full access to the details of the case and has strongly criticized and condemned the actions of the administration and of Provost Krauss in particular. I am confident that, if you were to inquire about the CFRR investigation, you would find its thoroughness very hard to deny.

FIRE has also substantiated, through written evidence, that the Brandeis administration is withholding information from the university community on two critical matters. First, Krauss has refused to reveal (even to the faculty, which has specifically asked for the information) the “legal responsibilities” that she invoked in order to defend her indefensible actions against Hindley. Second, the administration has refused, even after promising Hindley that the information was forthcoming, to provide Hindley or his legal counsel with a statement of what he allegedly said or did that led to the declaration of his guilt. Let me repeat: Brandeis has not even seen fit to inform Hindley exactly what he is supposed to have done. Nor has Hindley been allowed to see the report of the administrator (Jesse Simone) who led the investigation against him. Is there any justification whatsoever for denying the accused person in a university discipline process access to the charges or the evidence against him, in any situation? FIRE can think of none, and we would be extremely interested to hear Brandeis’s reason, if it has one, for doing so in this case.

I have difficulty understanding how it is that, in the face of the statements and reports of the Faculty Senate and the CFRR, one can conclude that “the matter is being handled competently.” The official representatives of the Brandeis faculty seem to disagree with you on this point.

FIRE plans to continue advocating for justice in this case. Since we work nearby in Philadelphia, I hope you might be available for a short meeting to discuss these issues. If so, please contact me at your convenience.

Sincerely yours,

Adam Kissel
Director, Individual Rights Defense Program

cc:

Jehuda Reinharz
Malcolm Sherman
Marty Wyngaarden Krauss
Donald Hindley

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Schools: Brandeis University Cases: Brandeis University: Professor Found Guilty of Harassment for Protected Speech