Northwestern University Bans Political Science Professor from
Campus, Retaliation against Critic (September 2016)
the end of July, with no warning and no specific charges or evidence of
College Dean Adrian Randolph banned me from contact
with students, including
students not enrolled at Northwestern, and from the Northwestern
campus, including my office and
the libraries in Evanston and Chicago. The alleged rationale?
faculty "feeling unsafe" around me, assertions untethered to any
specific actions or statements on my part. These
prohibitions are in place as I await my mandatory
interview with an NU-chosen psychiatrist. And yet for over a month, NU
has failed to
provide the psychiatrist with the materials he needs to even schedule
our interview. I recently learned that my Department Chair
been coordinating this event with the Provost's office since last fall,
shortly after the publication of my
article in Perspectives
on Politics offering
an unflattering portrait of Northwestern as exemplifying the
military-industrial-academic complex. The fact that I played a
role in obstructing the appointment of a retired military officer whose
leadership of the Buffett Institute for Global Studies was a hard
fought for objective of NU's Board and administration must have
hardened their resolve.
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September 1, 2016
In 2010 I was hired as a full
professor in the Political
Science Department at Northwestern
, where I teach
political and legal theory
I also am
the founding director of the Deportation
as well as a founding co-convener of
a research working group on
the Global Research University, both housed in the Buffett
Institute for Global Studies
University. For 2013-14 I was awarded
a Guggenheim Fellowship
In 2014, I
the keynote speaker for the Association of Political Theory.
In 2011 I received the Project Censored
award for #4 of the Top 25 Censored Stories of 2010, for "America's
Secret ICE Castles
," an article
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Fugitive Operations
were surreptitously holding people in unmarked buildings in
across the country, and working out of New York City's Chelsea Market,
the Food Network. My scholarship, most recently
on private prisons
, also has been used in successful
and class action lawsuits. For
more on my work, please go here
several years I also have been a scholar
and critic of the militarization of political science
In 2015 I published
in Perspectives on Politics
an article exposing NU's militarized Board of Trustees,
Boeing's side contracts supporting Doha's "Education City," where NU
runs a journalism school the U.S. State Department tasked with changing
Al Jazeera's anti-U.S. coverage.
I was at
ground zero of an
effort by faculty, students, and alumni to block
of retired Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry
Buffett Institute for
Global Studies. Eikenberry didn't have a
any peer-reviewed articles, but he did have excellent
connections in the Department of Defense and State Department, not to
mention China. The administrators said he'd help rotate NU faculty
through government, like Harvard, they said. The CEOs and directors of
Boeing, Caterpillar, and General Dynamics who run NU thought the China
business, a colleague with ties to the upper echelons of the
administration told me.
In mid-April, 2016 we were elated to learn that
private letters, public
, and the resolution opposing
appointment two students introduced for consideration by the Associated
Student Government worked! Instead of showing up in the fall,
2016, the Chicago Reader
announced in mid-April: "Northwestern
(Eikenberry later explained that he
handle the criticism: "...opposition proved so persistent that
Eikenberry decided in April to pull the plug," the
Washington Post reported
A jointly crafted, oddly worded press
NU's responsibility for not adequately managing the situation.
The Chair of NU's Board of Trustees, William Osborn, told the
Faculty Senate in June that the
appointment was "not properly socialized."
A dis-appointment, if you
June brought another
momentous announcement: Provost
Dan Linzer was
as NU's President Morton
Schapiro phrased a decision widely
understood as the Board firing Linzer for botching
the Eikenberry appointment.
The triumph of faculty and students
administration and its Board was covered by the Washington Post
episode an "embarassment"
for NU's administration.
And so it came to pass that by the end
of July I learned
I was next.
As a number of
collaborative projects with about a dozen students and recent graduates
NU and other campuses were humming along quite nicely (student names
are pseudonyms)--e.g., Richard was
coding FOIA litigation over redactions asserting claims of proprietary
information or trade secrets; Diane was coding cases of Illegal
Reentry with claims of U.S. citizenship; Maria was drafting a
lawsuit to obtain contracts from the State Department; Margaret was
legal research on historical criteria for evidence of U.S.
citizenship; Mark was analyzing FOIA releases on ICE facility work
programs; and I was advising Anne on her research comparing the
FOIA law in England with that in the United States
Randolph emailed to
me a two-page letter with edicts banning
me from campus, prohibiting me from all contact
with students, including those enrolled
elsewhere, and ... ordering me to
undergo a mandatory fitness-for-duty examination with a psychiatrist
chosen by Northwestern.
reason? Dean Randolph was just following up on reports he and my Chair
helped stir up, the gist of which was that I
might explode at any moment and cause a "blood bath" in Scott Hall.
(Turns out Randolph had numerous reports claiming the
including one from a student grateful for my support after
the Provost let it be known Eikenberry might sue her for defamation. He
disregarded each and every one of these.)
Right. Completely outrageous.
And yes, also surreal. If this reminds you of Stalin's Soviet
Union you can join the
chorus of my colleagues at NU who know me and, as importantly, know the
folks behind this. Watching this unfold feels a bit like
myself in the middle of the sort of twisted plot you'd encounter in
"House of Cards," especially when I read the report of the
pseudo-independent investigator NU hired. It turns out she's
close with several attorneys in NU's Office of General Counsel (OGC)
co-wrote an article
on how to fire tenured faculty.
Just for the record: I
have never been diagnosed with a mental illness, nor prescribed
medications, nor even
this suggested to me. I also have never physically threatened much less
assaulted anyone, anywhere; I have never made any statements to third
threatening anyone else, anywhere; and the single factual allegation on
the Dean based his ban -- that I spoke "aggressively" and was
"threatening" -- is from a faculty member whose aggressive conduct
toward me was the reason the investigator was called in!
That's right: I followed NU procedures and filed the complaint
accurately pointing out my colleague's unprofessional conduct,
but the investigator had arranged our meeting in a tiny
room adjacent a university police officer, due to her alleged concerns
about her physical safety. Meanwhile, prior to meeting me, she met the
guy who slammed the door -- let's call him Slammer -- in his office and
with no adjacent police. Slammer, it turns out, was overheard
by a student, who, on hearing yelling and a door
slam, approached me and reflexively asked if I was okay and
happened. The student
has signed a sworn statement that if called to do so he will
testify in court that he heard a man's voice yelling, including "get
out!", no other voice, and the door slamming, and that he told this to
In other words, there is one specific
allegation of my actually doing something that supposedly made this guy
(who is larger than me and has bragged about being an athlete)
"threatened by" and "unsafe" around me and a student has signed a
document stating he will give evidence under oath that will show this
Slammer has denied in writing raising his voice and stated that he
closed the door quietly; my
contemporaneous complaint stated that Slammer blew up, yelled at me,
and slammed the door. NU's investigator reported the student
"never actually saw anything," and omitted what the student told her
I know. Lots of head scratching.
I must be leaving something out.
According to letters alleging I pose a risk to
campus safety--authored by five members of the Department who
part of the
administration and/or people about whose improprieties I had
"she is a 'No' vote on many matters before the
Department"; I have a "bias
against the military"; am
"peculiar" (i.e., gender non-conforming,
queer); "feel [I]
can say anything"; am "disrespectful"; and "question [the] integrity"
the Chair (according to the Chair); and some students disliked how I
ran a class.
The documents shared with me purport to show wrongdoing, but contain
not a single specific charge of any rule violation, even though NU's
Faculty Handbook (pp. 30-31) requires this be shared with faculty prior
taking any actions that impede our research or teaching.
The best this little clique can do to
the alleged fear of me is to reference several ridiculously petty and
false allegations unrelated to physical safety, many involving third
The idea appears to be that if they can show I am unstable
voting no, being "biased" against the military, questioning admissions
decisions made by people who did not read most of the files, and so
forth), that must mean I have a "borderline personality disorder," as
one colleague suggested, and that
must mean I will attack people physically.
No one explains how I could have this severe, dangerous psychological
disorder and yet have never actually threatened or harmed anyone.
My favorite email is from a political scientist
stating that the editor of the Daily
rejected a letter by a graduate student who supported the Eikenberry
appointment and told the student it was because "Professor
Stevens is a powerful person." This was the sole example
this individual had to support his claim I posed a threat to
In the end, the Daily
student's letter. Or at least it published
letter by a Political Science graduate student
(a major in
the Air Force) claiming I was a "conspiracy theorist." And someone
this letter on both ends
of the hall in the Political Science Department when Eikenberry gave a
talk, where the letters remained for some time
thereafter. (Based on my
research on the nation-state
I object to militarism; so do the veterans who opposed
appointment, including Aaron Hughes, whose Tea Project at Northwestern
was organized and supported in this same time-frame by several
faculty and students, myself included, as discussed in this Letter
to the Daily
Someone must have been
pretty hard-pressed to step up for the administration if the best he
could do to speak on behalf of apparently vulnerable
students references nothing I have said or done.
clear, outside the classroom I have no authority at all anywhere in the
university, save that awarded by evidence and logical analysis--in this
Eikenberry shilling for Rwandan political leaders
U.N. stated had perpetrated genocide and who were currently jailing and
killing dissidents and journalists.
In response to the head-scratching as
why NU would undertake an action that is so blatantly bullying and
damaging to its reputation -- as though it needs one more round of
national publicity to add to its recent violations of academic freedom
speech (e.g., Laura Kipnis, "My
Title IX Inquisition
Bioethicist Quits over Censorship Row at Northwestern University
Linzer threatening students opposing Eikenberry with a defamation
response is what I've been saying all along: NU is not a research
university committed to the free exploration of ideas. It is
an appendage of a military and corporate board that for close to a
century has been using its
authority to further a range of unsavory deals.
Yes, inspiring research,
scholarship, and teaching occur here. Every day I wake
up excited to work with the wonderful colleagues and the
encountered here, including in the Political Science Department.
The Mafia-owned Rao's restaurant served great food, but even
four star chef
wouldn't last if the family felt its illicit deals were being exposed.
In my view, the end game for NU is not a legal victory, but rather an
to cloud my reputation by accusations of insanity. NU's
Office of General Counsel
run by Philip Harris, who used to be a partner in the Chicago law firm
that for decades represented General Dynamics and the Crown family.
Harris is well-aware of my research into the financial and
ties that reflect poorly on the Board, most as yet unpublished.
Harris, instead of
recusing himself because of the appearance of his own conflicts of
interest in my case was, and I assume still is, overseeing the current
pursued against me. My view is that the
this care more about their own reputations than that of NU and are thus
willing to sacrifice the latter in a pathetic attempt to discredit as a
"conspiracy theory" my disclosures.
Alas, the actions these attorneys and administrators are
will bring a great deal of unnecessary and unflattering attention to
the Political Science Department, whose faculty and students do not
deserve this. My reporting is my reporting and I imagine
will decide on the basis of the evidence whether my analysis of NU is
correct or off base. Likewise, I have no intention of
relinquishing my responsibilities for faculty self-governance,
including challenging and reporting, in accordance with
policy, conduct that I find unprofessional or abusive.
said, this is a shot across the bow to all faculty, tenured and
otherwise, that you should be worried about being harassed if
fired by an unaccountable officialdom disloyal to
research and teaching mission. (First the Chair and Dean
prevented me from paying the undergraduates; and in July, when the
students were working with me for no pay, the Dean shut down our work
Can you fire, or even ban, a tenured professor because of the junior
high school antics of a few bullies asserting that they are the ones
"feeling threatened" and "unsafe"?
Common sense, NU's Faculty Handbook, employment
my lawyer, say "Are you kidding? No way!"
transparent ploy to retaliate against me for inquiries
into unsavory actions by political science faculty and the university
that my colleagues and the former students with whom I have discussed
this to date concur: it's going
to waste a lot
of time and money, cause a huge distraction, and I will keep my job.
The next step is a mandatory interview
with an NU-selected psychiatrist.
However, it is over a month since I received the
letter and I
even schedule an appointment; Northwestern failed to send
documents the psychiatrist needs to schedule this. This delay seems
consistent with the Chair's stated goal of keeping me off campus for
the fall quarter and, as I read her letter to the Dean, eventually to
Fortunately, I have the support
of colleagues and former students at Northwestern and
elsewhere who are
shocked and disgusted by these transparently retaliatory and thuggish
tactics. Again, I assure everyone reading this that there is
I have ever said or done that would justify, even remotely, this
How Can I Help?
Email to Northwestern, short is fine, from
people who know me
and simply can vouch they have never known me as unbalanced,
in any way would be extremely helpful. To date Randolph has
completely disregarded positive letters--he omitted any
to them in his summaries or his August 17, 2016 letter for the
psychiatrist-- but perhaps if they
tallied in the dozens or more this will make a difference. Please write
to Dean Adrian
and copy my attorney Rima Kapitan (firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to contact me personally, please write me at
swn AT protonmail.ch.