Committee on Cause Response
Last week I received the
from Brand NU's Faculty Senate Committee on Cause (CoC) responsive to
appeal of "the ban," including the prohibition of contact with
students; the retraction of $3,000 in Farrell Fellow funding; and the
forced psychiatric screening. Supporting documents, all
available on this site, also
indicated a pattern of harassment in support of my claim that the
actions against me were taken in retaliation for my academically
protected speech, including questioning policies within
the Political Science Department that are providing
benefits to the U.S. military not available to other government or
The Committee, chaired by Northwestern Pritzker
School of Law Professor Ronald
Allen, submitted a report whose main purpose was to explain the
Committee's irrelevance to faculty self-governance. Since it
no official charges from the
University, the CoC claimed it could not proceed: "Professor
Stevens may very well have been mistreated in numerous small and
not-so-small ways; perhaps there is a hostile workplace environment
actionable under law; but the Committee on Cause is not an appropriate
forum to air such diffuse and wide-ranging disagreements."
The Committee acknowledges that "this may appear to permit
the Administration to manipulate processes such as these by simply
refusing to give such statements." Indeed, this is not just
an appearance but a factual statement of what Allen and his colleagues
10/14/2016- The point person in the Provost's office, working hand in
glove with Monoson all year to ban me, was Associate Provost Lindsay
Chase-Lansdale. Guess who decides when to convene the Faculty
Senate Committee on Cause? Right, Chase-Lansdale, one of the
persons whose actions the Committee would be evaluating. In
the Brand NU World
the official accused of bad faith is the same
one deciding if and when when her actions will be reviewed.
sent my appeal of the ban and numeorus other harassing actions to
Chase-Lansdale on August 18, 2016. Faculty Senate President
Professor Laurie Zoloth told the Daily
she was ready to convene the Committee at any time, including over the
summer. Yet not until September 16, 2016, the day after the
psychiatrist cleared me to return to work, did Chase-Lansdale convene the
Committee. For an article covering this in the Daily Northwestern,
I will appeal.
There is nothing transparent and hence nothing
precedential about these decisions--they are typically not
released--but one takeaway is that any time the Brand NU
administration wants to harass professors, it can simply call
punitive actions against tenured professors non-disciplinary.
(The CoC noted that the Faculty Handbook requires the
administrative unit taking disciplinary action to notify the faculty
member of "'the charges being brought, the factual evidence supporting
the charges, and the relevant University policy and/or the basis for
showing that the faculty member has breached acceptable standards for
responsible academic service or conduct.' Apparently no such
statement was given to Professor Stevens, nor turned over to the
Committee following a request for it to both parties" (CoC
9/26/2016, p. 1).)
main problem is that it
is absolves the Committee of responsibility by
appeal, as well as by the latitude it gives the administration.
the Faculty Handbook, "It is not the function of this Committee [on
make formal findings of fact" (Handbook 31). And yet the
report includes false statements about my own submissions and two false
statements about Brand NU's actions.
(1) I failed to provide them instances of specific
"Although Professor Stevens has provided numerous actions
taken by members of the Department and Administration, she has not
provided a succinct list, either" (CoC 9/26/2016, p. 2).
(2) The COC says the ban on contact with students was lifted
"The Committee also notes that the most serious of the
allegations of sanctions--barring Professor Stevens from contact with
students and barring her from campus--were ameliorated almost
immediately, as in the case of student contact (she was allowed contact
with students for whom she gave a reason to be in contact) or have
since been abrogated (she is now allowed on campus)."
(3) The Faculty Handbook requires the Administration follows
certain procedures prior to forced medical leave. The procedure and timeframe in my
case, as we pointed out, were entirely at odds with this
It is obvious that the Administration pursued the ban in bad
faith in retaliation for my scholarship and participation in faculty
(1)The first statement implies that I provided a rambling account of
unpleasant interactions, and inexplicably suggests that if one endures
numerous violations of the Faculty Handbook and the list is not
"succinct," the Administration obtains
a free pass. The Administration need merely accompany major
disciplinary actions with a number of more minor lessor sanctions in
the hopes that the Committee on Cause will throw up its hands and
declare the matter too complicated to fall within its
In the event, my attorney Rima Kapitan
presented an eight page single-spaced
document that in the first paragraph clearly listed 10
specific actions against me
and proceeded to narrate how each
one violated a disciplinary requirement of the Handbook.
The CoC letter inexplicably ignores my
reference to a specific and still ongoing denial of $3,000
in funds for
undergraduate research assistance
awarded me through the
Farrell Fellow program, as documented in a recent article
in the Daily
. This is the very first
charge mentioned in our
As we point out, the denial of funds is among actions considered "major
sanctions--actions leading to the loss of salary, removal of all
teaching responsibilities, loss
of institutional support for academic or research activities
suspension, or termination" (Handbook
The CoC inexplicably and irresponsibly ignores this.
(2) Also, the CoC inaccurately claims that the bar on contact
students was ameliorated immediately. It was not.
Between July 29, 2016 and September 19, 2016 I was prohibited
not only from meeting in person with students, but
also categorically prohibited from telephone
text messaging, and
mail. On an ad hoc basis I was allowed limited
with students only on
For instance, I could write in response to a request for a
of recommendation, but was not allowed to provide feedback
on an opinion piece the student wanted to submit to The Guardian
to put her in touch with colleagues at foreign institutions.
The categorical ban on communications by mail, telephone, and texts had
enormous consequences. First, as I documented to Dean
Randolph at the time, and then conveyed to the CoC, two of
the projects required me to oversee students making coding decisions on
court documents. I was working remotely by phone or
in person with teams of students viewing the same documents and
spreadsheets online in real-time, and it was just not possible to do
this on email. Randolph's inteference in the summer, when
were available and in the midst of completing these projects, brought
work to a standstill and squandered dozens if not hundreds of hours of
previous collective work.
The student who was organzing the analysis of FOIA court decisions in
cases when private firms asserted exemptions for proprietary or trade
secrets had been working on this project since January, 2016 and is now
too distrustful of Brand NU to resume. First they pulled his Farrell
funds and then, when he was working for no pay, would not allow me to
respond to his texts or phone calls. In response to his text
messages pleading with me for a time when we could speak, Randolph
required me to
say no more than that I was now "on leave" and refer him to the
Director of Undergraduate Studies (who had no responsive information).
Randolph refused to let me
explain further. The student, with whom I had been in contact
least once weekly for several months, only learned of the real reason
for my sudden failure to reply to him when he read my account here on
Moreover, the ban on mail, also in place through September 19 had a
major impact on the work of Deportation Research Clinic
Associate Charles Clarke, a JD/PhD student writing his dissertation on
the concept of deportation. Without
any warning, Chair Sara Monoson had all mail in my department box sent
address in New York City, including
mail addressed to Charles Clarke!
CD forwarded from the Department of Justice arrived broken, the first
casualty among the dozens I have received. Along with the
CD was a piece of junk mail addressed to Sara Monoson. Also
the mail were several pieces of handwritten correspondence to
Clarke from someone he was
trying to assist with his claim of U.S. citizenship and who, Clarke
learned on finally being able to read the mail, had been locked in
solitary. Just as Clarke was trying to resume
learned this individual had been deported.
I also was not allowed to send by mail comments in the margins
draft of a graduate student dissertation. And, I was not allowed to
student journalists. (This impeded my research because one of
them had information connected to Brand NU-related offset contracts.)
There are numeorus other effects on student and my research
that created irretrievable losses, including student trust in
administrators, for which the Brand NU operatives who did this should
be ashamed and should apologize.
(3) The thought that the CoC felt compelled to defer to
the bad faith implentation of Handbook rules is of great concern.
If any measures taken against me interfere with my
or teaching, then the Handbook indicates these are "major sanctions."
If a medical leave is implemented in bad faith and interferes
with my teaching or research, the CoC certainly could say as
much, and not simply defer to the i's Randolph dotted and the ts he
an article on immigration judge misconduct I am co-authoring with a
colleague and a student (also delayed because of the ban), we note the
theoretical impoverishment of the literature on misconduct and
propose a focus on temperments of misconduct and not just
procedures, the framework current scholarship implicitly privileges.
We do so in recognition of the fact that procedures are
if the people implementing them do so in bad faith.
explain immigration judge misconduct we use heuristics of The Bully,
The Accountant, The Moron, The Thief, and, especially
important, The Crony, all personas behind the harms
perpetrated against others and myself by Brand NU operatives.)
Harrassed While Off the Clock (And Off the Faculty Senate
The report's emphasis on timing -- their response after the ban was
lifted -- also raises concerns. I first
filed an appeal with the CoC concerning Monoson's retaliatory removal
of Farrell funding in May, 2016, as the rules required an appeal within
20 days of the action taken. The then-Chair of the
CoC told me that because Randolph
had indefinitely delayed his response to my appeal with him, the CoC
would not act. I filed the second appeal on August 18, after
the ban was imposed. No one convened the CoC over
summer and the case was not taken up until after the ban was lifted.
Also troubling is that although Monoson filed an official letter on May
3, 2016 indicating she felt "unsafe" in my presence (so
afraid that she
charged up to me and
yelled at me twice when I first returned
did not initiate the ban until July 28, the day after my attorney
called to follow up on the removal of my Farrell Fellow funding.
If he had imposed the "fitness for duty" interview in the
time frame appropriate for the allegation, I would have been able to
straighten this out through the CoC while it was still active, and
before the summer break. The
lag between claims I was violent and the ban meant that by the time the
Committee on Cause got around to weighing in on the propriety of my
discipline, the disciplinary process had already run its course and
therefore was supposedly beyond the purview of the committee
Finally, when reading Brand NU President Morton Schapiro's announcement
increasing the number of paid winter holidays, based on his
supposed observation that
we need recuperative
breaks, I started wondering about the
intrusion into my summer plans with the restrictions on
my ability to speak with not only NU students but also students at
other campuses who were collaborating with us.
(Like most Brand NU employees, I am paid for nine
months of work, distributed over 12 months of pay checks.)
If he is so concerned about our rest, then why not implement
administrative actions requiring time-intensive responses in a time
frame when NU employees are actually being paid?
thrilled to be back in the classroom teaching the "Deportation Law
and Politics" course. Students observed their first
immigration court hearings last week and seem engaged by what they saw,
including some who watched a televideo "relay translation."
Through a video monitor in a Chicago immigration court we
observed one interpreter
translating from K'iche' to Spanish and a second from Spanish to
for an illiterate man from Guatemala detained in Wisconsin and whose
family is in Kentucky. The respondent's attorney abandoned him and
failed to file with the court the asylum application as promised to the
immigration judge in a previous hearing. It
was eye-opening for all of us. If Monoson et al. had their way,
these students never would have seen this nor have had the opportunity
to learn about the law and politics behind what they were watching.
for no discernible reason locked out of my office in Scott Hall,
isolated from my colleagues, and still do not have a
personal office but am sharing space with students in the Deportation
Research Clinic, which is housed in a commercial office space
Brand NU owns and is using as swing space for the expanding Buffett
Institute. Students cannot leave papers and there is no
support, i.e., copying, mail, etc.
I also still do not have access to the Farrell Funds on which the
Deportation Research Clinic has relied heavily for its research
Enablers Protesteth Too Much
Those behind the ban, Tillery especially, have gone out of their way to
claim they did
not care about the Eikenberry appointment or my concerns about the
advantages the department was providing the
U.S. military over other organizations. The evidence suggests
In November, 2015, 67 faculty members signed a private letter to
Linzer and President Morton Schapiro protesting the search process and
the apparent annointment of Ret. Lt. General Karl Eikenberry former
Ambassador to Afghanistan, to run the Buffettt Institute of Global
Studies. The administration ignored us.
In February, 2016, several colleagues joined me in approaching the 67
signatories to ask if they would sign a letter
we were submitting to the Daily Northwestern
and we asked
others as well. 46
faculty signed an open letter protesting the Eikenberry appointment
Those who declined to sign the public letter typically did not reply or
simply asked that their
names not be included, with three notable exceptions: Sara Monoson,
and Alvin Tillery, all faculty at the core of the efforts to
have me fired, two of whom went out of their way to affirm
their support of the U.S. military, and all of whom have been
public in their attacks on me. Monoson also
Linzer to author an April, 2016 faculty letter in support of
Eikenberry, signed of course, by Reno and by Tillery.
Here's what Monoson wrote:
Please make sure that my name is NOT on this letter. I disagree with it in its entirety. (Email February 8, 2016.)
Here's what Reno wrote:
I reject the assertions in the open letter below. I do not object to Karl Eikenberry's military background. I consider service in the armed forces to be honorable. I am proud of my family's substantial record of military service. Association with the military does not automatically translate into blind support for current policies. The charge below is ironic, as it was Karl Eikenberry who authored the classified cables to his superiors that were leaked in January 2010. We learned that in November 2009 he provided a negative assessment of proposed U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. He argued that a troop buildup would actually hurt the war effort. I regard his frank and sober analysis and his willingness to challenge the policies of his superiors as evidence of his substantial leadership skills. (Email February 8, 2016.)
While I do think that there were likely better choices available, and I would have preferred an academic to head the Buffet, I actually have no objection to Mr. Eikenberry's military background. On the contrary, I believe that service in the armed forces is honorable and also provides SOME individuals with incredible leadership skills. Moreover, I trace my own family's ability to thrive in this nation, even while subject to the harshest of color bars, in part to the skills that men in my family acquired serving in every war since the Revolution. (E-mail Feb. 6, 2016.)
I have no problem with some of the statements in the e-mails responding
I have said on the record that I thought Eikenberry raised
appropriate concerns about the U.S. engagements in Afghanistan.
However, the simplistic embrace of military service,
especially by Tillery, who is a scholar of W.E.B. Du Bois, is indeed
troubling. Du Bois was a passionate critic of
U.S. imperialism and had complex, evolving views on the utility of
military service for then-Negroes; Du Bois during World War One was
swayed by arguments about the short term
benefits African-Americans might derive through U.S. military service.
But he never confused this with
genuine advances for people of color and the struggle against
imperialism. Throughout his career, begun in Germany, Du Bois's
analyses were inherently global.
response to Du Bois's progressive politics, the same U.S. government
Tillery praises for the military training it
provided his ancestors, harassed Du Bois for his support of communism
critiques of U.S. militarism for decades, including FBI
investigations and bans on travel.
Numerous people of color from military families, as well as those who
have themselves served in the military and acquired skills from that
to reject it. Consider my newest hero, Eva Jefferson
Paterson, who in 1970 became the first African-American elected
president of NU's
Associated Student Government. She grew up in a
military family in France, but was among the student leaders protesting
involvement with the military, including the Navy ROTC program.
One of her main objections to the wars then ongoing? The U.S.
backed wars in Vietnam and Cambodia killed civilians and created
refugees. Tillery touts his ancestors' service
in the same military Jefferson , from a military family, opposed.
(I have no idea what "the men in [Tillery's] family" did
Vietnam War, but it appears he lauds military service, as long as it
provides leadership skills
course a politics rooted in the parochial advantages a policy provides
one's immediate family or even men of an oppressed race is naive and
muddle-headed. If Reno and Tillery
disagree and can produce a coherent theory defending U.S.
service based on family heritage, that's great. Let's debate
meetings or in public talks, or even schedule our own.
instead of discussing issues
with me seems a violent concession to a fear of rational discussion,
which I believe is the source of their actual anxiety about
encountering me, not guns.
There are complex, political questions about the relation between the
university and the military, some of which focus uniquely on benefits
provided by Brand NU's Political Science Department. If I
Department to the likes of Monoson, Reno, and Tillery, past experience
suggests that no one else will raise them, and thus there will be no
resist the inertia embodied in the pro-military statements by those
who may claim their views of me are not tainted by
politics and can credibly believe this only because in the Brand NU
World discipline is not discipline and
politics is not politics.