Brand NU World

Brand NU Merges with Brand Trump,
Illegal Office Move Scheduled for Winter Break

December 7, 2016

On Friday, October 7, 2016, Dean Adrian Randolph sent a letter to me stating he would "proceed to propose disciplinary actions"  -- no charges were specified -- unless I agreed to a behavior modification "coach" and to be administratively separated from my department.  He offered me $7,500 per year in research funding and said I needed to agree by noon on Monday, October 10.  The deadline came and went. I ignored it.  Almost two months later, and over seven months after Monoson prohibited me from paying undergraduate research assistants, no charges have been pursued, nor even provided.  (Randolph also threatened me with sanctions if I released my own letter, despite the fact that this violates no University policy and despite the fact that Chair Sara Monoson and Associate Chair Alvin Tillery have been using confidential personnel documents to disparage me to the press, colleagues, and students for months, in clear violation of University policies.)

On November 4, 2016, Anita Levy of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) sent a letter to Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro rebuking him for the actions taken against me: "We find this situation quite troubling, and, to be frank, we are surprised that it has occurred at Northwestern." 

On December 2, 2016, I was summarily informed my office would be moved on December 12 to a decrepit, non-ADA compliant, largely vacant building across campus where I will have no administrative support and be isolated from my colleagues and students. Randolph said he would not provide me specific reasons so I could appeal this decision because "it was in no way a disciplinary action..."   

Today, December 7, my attorney received from Levy correspondence stating the AAUP views this action as a "minor sanction, which, under our policies (see Regulation 7b of the attached Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure), should be appealable to a faculty body..."  But Randolph hasn't budged and as of 8:30 pm CST the move still is set for Monday, December 12

  Life in the Political Science Department was returning to business as usual.  We had the usual faculty meetings, searches, talks, and workshops we always did.  And although the Chair was issuing repeated dire warnings about my return, the sky never actually fell.  Moreover, despite claims my behavior was so outrageous as to require my being banned and subjected to forced psychiatric interviews and tests, no disciplinary charges were filed against me.  On occasion I was even allowed to remain in my office in Scott Hall unsupervised.  

Until a few days ago I was hopeful that the persecution by my supervisors was subsiding and I would be able to return to my academic writing and research, and to rebuild the Deportation Research Clinic President Morton Schapiro, Provost Daniel Linzer, Associate Provost Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, Dean Adrian Randolph, Chair Sara Monoson, and Associate Chair Alvin Tillery had inexcusably eviscerated over the summer and early fall.  

There were just two outstanding matters.  First, Monoson still had not restored the Farrell Fellow funds granted for students to work with me this academic year (2016-17).  The original rationale for the action from Monoson last April was "student complaints."  After current research assistants, upset at losing funding, complained and indicated they wanted to continue to work with me, Randolph in June offered a new account: "Al [Tillery] is scared." This was a shocking and unsubstantiated pretense that is now widely viewed as such by those who have paid the slightest attention to any of this.

Second, the office manager has been instructed to open the door to my Scott Hall office on request, but with no rationale at all, I never received a key to the lock that had been changed following the ban.  In early November no one objected when I informed the office manager that a Univision crew would be filming an interview of a Spanish-speaking student working with the Deportation Research Clinic.  Without a key, a graduate student had to babysit the equipment while people took a break, I observed a practice job talk, and the office manager was gone for lunch.  

Referencing this event and related challenges, I asked Randolph in an e-mail to make sure I would have a key so that I could come and go without having to be escorted by the office manager, a practice that prevented me from working in my office for sustained periods of time and therefore ensured I was not receiving phone calls from people who had been deported and could not easily have their calls returned.

Randolph replied on November 23, the day before the Thanksgiving break, "I will work with the department on finding a solution."  I took this to mean he was ensuring that I would have a key to my office.

Instead, late afternoon on Friday, December 2, 2016 I received an email from Monoson revealing that on December 12, 2016 the entire contents of my office -- including seven full bookshelves approximately 3' x 6.5' and several file cabinets -- were scheduled to be packed up and moved to the third floor office of Locy, a decrepit building on the campus perimeter and facing a loud construction site.  

The Locy office assigned me is adjacent offices housing administrative staff for the Chicago Field Studies Program.  As far as I can tell the only other faculty are adjuncts for the Math Department on the second floor and a professor assigned to a first floor office as swing space as a new building for her department is completed.

Why move my office December 12 and not earlier?  Like the ban, imposed during a summer break and apropo no specific incident other than my attorney inquiring the previous day about the recission of research funds, NU seems to be timing this to correspond with the campus emptying for the winter break, part of NU's pattern of attempting to circumvent any faculty review, as noted by the AAUP.

NOTE: The AAUP letter of November 4 is a bit confusing because one portion appears to be premised on my having capitulated to Randolph's threats, even though our cover letter clearly stated this had not occurred.  My attorney, Rima Kapitan, on November 6 also sent a follow up email after we received the AAUP letter:

Dear Dr. Levy,

I realized upon re-reading your letter that I need to clarify something: Dr. Stevens did not assent to Dean Randolph's demand in the October 7 letter that she "accept administrative separation" from the department. One month later, the administration has not yet followed through on the troubling threats of new disciplinary action, so at present she remains a member of the department and is able to participate in department governance, with some ad hoc restrictions by the Chair. 

That said, over the summer NU changed the lock to her office and declined to allow her to resume occupying that office. She is forced to make special arrangements during business hours to collect and return her books and papers. While she is working elsewhere she cannot access a copy machine, staff support, or her office telephone. No one has provided an explanation for this punishment, nor an opportunity to appeal. Moreover, the $3,000 Farrell funds awarded Dr. Stevens on March 30, 2016 by the Director of Undergraduate Studies to hire student research assistants was revoked by the Chair in early April, which is the same time frame in which the Chair was leading the faculty effort to save Karl Eikenberry's appointment. Both the office ban and the denial of research funds affect Dr. Stevens' ability to conduct research and thus constitute "major sanctions" that were imposed with no specific explanation or opportunity to appeal.

Thanks again to you and your colleagues for your time and attention to this case. 


The Brand NU World = Trump's World

Among the Trump-effects bemoaned by my colleagues and students are attacks on free speech,  ridicule for challenges to militarism, fake news, government by fiat, targeting leftist faculty, and position-changing-of-convenience.

Welcome to my world.  (Indeed there is an actual Trump appointment from the small cadre that runs General Dynamics and also Brand NU: Ret. Marine General James Mattis, the incoming Secretary for the Department of Defense.  Thanks to Charles Clarke for this!)

Brand NU's crude, vicious, shifting, and unsubstantiated attacks on me in writing and in deed have all the hallmarks of a Trump campaign.  Consider the following email from the same Randolph who threatened disciplinary action, responding to my quoting from the Faculty Handbook indicating that actions taken against me that interfered with me research and teaching required formal charges and my ability to appeal them:

Dear Jackie,
This is in no way a disciplinary action. You have expressed unhappiness with the present situation, so I hope you appreciate us trying to find a solution that will work for you and for the department. The move is intended to help you and your colleagues perform your work at the highest levels.  

Here's what Monoson stated in an e-mail on Monday, December 5:  

"Please understand that this adjustment is a solution, not a sanction."

Leaving aside that moving me to a building without administrative support, my mail, a copy machine, or people is not consistent with me performing my "work at the highest levels" and is not a "solution" for me or for my department -- the colleagues with whom I've shared this news had no idea Monoson was even contemplating this  --  the Orwellian assertion that this is not disciplinary is belied by Randolph's own statements.

Here's the e-mail responsive to this my attorney sent NU's attorney Stephanie Graham:

Please see below another example of Dr. Randolph attempting to circumvent Northwestern's disciplinary procedures.

Even though the office transfer is being taken against Dr. Stevens against her will, Dean Randolph characterizes it as an action being taken for Dr. Stevens' own benefit-- as a result of the fact that she has "expressed unhappiness with the present situation." For the record, Dr. Stevens has never expressed "unhappiness" with the fact that her office is located in Scott Hall. It was Dean Randolph who decided Dr. Stevens could no longer work from her office as a result of her "conduct," as he explained in his September 19, 2016 letter. He explained that because of Dr. Stevens' alleged "lack of civility," he would "assign [her] an office on campus that does not necessitate daily contact with your Political Science colleagues in Scott Hall."

It is therefore disingenuous for Dean Randolph to claim that Dr. Stevens' forced office transfer is for her benefit or not disciplinary; it is being ordered as a result of Dr. Stevens' "conduct" and against her will.


In sum, just when my students, colleagues and I were beginning to recover from the trauma of the ban and I was working on how to explain and respond to the post-Trump world of deportations, Monoson doubled down on what seems a personal vendetta, one supported by an NU administration and legal team also retaliating because of my revelations of their unseemly activities, including in my presentations to the Faculty Senate and my scholarship.

With no greater purpose other than placating her pique and that of a few others who were behind this in the first place, Monoson -- who was secretly working with the Provost's office since the beginning of last year to have me removed from the department, cancelled the department's Faculty Senate election after learning I would run against her good friend Tillery, and who, with no Buffett affiliation, led the effort to save the appointment of Ret. Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry to run the Buffett Institute -- wants to isolate me and reduce the possibility of having to face me in the hall and be reminded of her terrible judgment.  

If we faculty are really above the demagogic, personal politics that characterize Trump's candidacy, then why am I locked out of my office because, as a student put it, "colleagues who are well above the age of 30 are acting like high school students"?