The media is abuzz today with news of the resignation of Brandeis University President Jehuda Reinharz. According to The Brandeis Hoot, resignation talks between Reinharz and Board of Trustees Chair Malcolm Sherman began about "three and a half weeks ago," just at the time FIRE launched a national advertising campaign listing Brandeis on FIRE’s Red Alert list as one of the "worst of the worst" violators of individual rights among colleges and universities in the United States. The centerpiece of FIRE’s campaign is a full-page advertisement in U.S. News & World Report‘s famous "America’s Best Colleges" rankings issue. Brandeis has now appeared on the Red Alert list in U.S. News for two years in a row.
FIRE reserves spaces on the Red Alert list for those schools that students and faculty members should consider avoiding because of the exceedingly poor state of individual rights on campus. Brandeis joined the list after it found Professor Donald Hindley guilty of harassment—and put a monitor in his classes—apparently for using the term "wetbacks" (in the context of criticizing the term) in a relevant Latin American Politics course. (Hindley was never actually given a statement of what he allegedly said that caused this charge.) Provost Marty Krauss then shut down Hindley’s appeal by saying the matter was "closed," which led to a year-long battle with the faculty that included several strong statements of disapproval by the Faculty Senate. The Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities even refused to hear new faculty grievances because Krauss could not be trusted to give faculty members fair treatment. The full story and full documentation of this sad case, including the faculty and student revolt against the Brandeis administration over this issue, are on FIRE’s website.
Free speech champion Nat Hentoff wrote last year in a syndicated editorial that "I have now found the most outrageous case of all" in the Hindley case. Like many others, he accused the university of betraying the legacy of its namesake, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. How sad that the honorable news of Justice Brandeis appearing on a postage stamp is overshadowed by Reinharz’ dishonorable resignation.
The Hindley case never went away, and it will not go away so long as there is no justice in Hindley’s case. If Reinharz won’t remove the bogus "harassment" finding from Hindley’s record in order to get Brandeis off FIRE’s Red Alert list and restore some honor to Justice Brandeis’ legacy, let’s hope the next president will do it.