On September 1, the colleague I called "Slammer" -- he slammed the door and
then claimed I had a "break from reality" in reporting this --
posted his version of events on Facebook and shared this with a circle
of overlapping "friends," many of whom are political scientists. Since he is not
identifying himself publicly outside FB, I will continue to use his
There are two parts of his account that he weaves together such
his horrifying and life-altering experience of being lynched at the age
nine, unknown to me before yesterday, leads to his experience of my
scholarship within critical race
theory, and my comments opposing certain sorts of faculty appointments
as "borderline racist." I hold no ill will against him for these
beliefs, but I am outraged to learn that people in positions of
authority at NU instrumentalized his reported anxieties to serve their goal of
banning and firing me. These are simply not "feelings" on which
a research university can rely for firing or even banning a tenured faculty
member. I also now understand why NU kept secret from me the
of Slammer's fears--he reiterates on his FB page that he is
"absolutely afraid" of me: you cannot deny someone access to students
and her office because someone claims her scholarship and views on
academic governance make him afraid, even if this is accurate.
Banning me is neither a legal nor helpful means of
addressing this colleague's insecurities.
has posted that by opposing what he calls "spousal/diversity" hires, I
am racist. First, I am familiar with "spousal" appointments and also
"diversity" appointments. I have never encountered a
"spousal/diversity" appointment. Second, as Slammer and my
other colleagues know, my opposition to partner or spousal hires in
particular has nothing to do with
race nor qualifications. As I stated in a faculty meeting, when
the Office of the
Inspector General attacked the Executive Office of Immigration Review
for nepotism in the assignment of interns to immigration courts, the
accusation was not that the children of headquarters' officials were
untalented, but that the practice creates a climate of patronage
inconsistent with the impartial handling of official business. I
am concerned about the patronage implications of faculty
spousal appointments, and how these arrangements may produce tacit
expectations of quid pro quo with the administration.
is a minority view in my department, perhaps just held by me.
According to Socrates and John Stuart Mill, my colleagues should
be grateful I am sharing this with them. This concern about the
large number of spousal hires at NU is one I've voiced for several
years. As I've also said, including to Slammer to ensure he did not
take my comments personally, some of my best friends and most respected
colleagues are spousal hires, at NU and elsewhere. I realize many
go into appointments and I may be wrong about partner hires, but it is
view that is insane, nor is it racist.
Before turning to the politics of sex, sexuality, race, law, academia,
and much more running through all this, I want to focus on March 8.
filed the complaint about these events on that date.
The Chair, Sara Monoson, close friends with Slammer, the
Associate Chair, ignored my complaint. So did the Dean of
Faculty, Edward Gibson, the recent Chair of Political Science. (His
Associate Chair? Sara Monoson.) The details of these
connections are not important. What is important is that there is
a close-knit group of political scientists who have institutional power
and refuse to hold each other accountable.
report to the Chair and the Dean of Faculty pointed out a student
witnessed Slammer yelling at me. Why not investigate threats to my
safety, then and now, psychological and otherwise? The selective
manner in which the administration acted on reports of this altercation
shows NU is not motivated by safety. Here was a specific
specific violations of NU policies, but no one bothered to follow up
on my claim about being exposed to Slammer's aggression. The
investigator was brought in much later, to investigate Slammer's
claim that in reporting the incident, per NU policy, I had defamed him!
The double standard is self-evident.
(Among the far more egregious actual incidents of misconduct NU
administrators have ignored was a Chair throwing a chair during a
faculty meeting, one colleague told me. And where is the
discipline for the Provost who demonstrably threatened Eikenberry might sue students who
disapproved of the appointment?)
In the aftermath of March 8, I expected that Slammer would
apologize. I was hopeful the episode would occasion bringing in a
to meet with members of my troubled subfield, as I had requested
several times in the past. Slammer is right: the issues that
divide us are not disagreements about the Buffett Institute, though
Slammer has made statements avowing his long-standing support for the
U.S. military, based, he wrote, on the honorable service of several
generations of men in his family. That puts him on record as hostile to
my own views on this. The difference in opinion is fine with me, but, as with his
claims about our different views on aspects of Black Political Theory,
he may find this intolerable as well.
(If you want to
take a look at the scholarship informing my critique of Slammer's
views on Black Political Thought, which came up just once as I recall,
in the context of discussing the wording of a position request, please
read my essay, "Recreating the State,"
which first appeared in a special issue of Third World Quarterly
I co-edited with Richard Falk and Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Third World Quarterly
27.5 (2006). This essay explores how essentialist identity
politics of White and other racial, national, and ethnic groups consolidate nationalist, imperialist, racist state power, and
points out the changing characteristics and dynamics of these subject
positions as evidence for demanding critiques of nationalist
insitutions that consolidate intergenerational identities, including
those that may appear to be harbors of temporary safety for a few but
that perpetuate systemic violence and inequality for most of us. A few
years ago I was honored to learn that Angela Harris had selected this
essay for inclusion in her reader, Race and Equality in Law
(Vermont, Ashgate: 2013).
To be clear on a point Slammer misconstrues: I never claimed that
Slammer or other members of my department were provoked to claim they
feel unsafe because of me because of my research and organizing on the
Eikenberry appointment. I believe that they loathe me for other
reasons related to our very different understandings of the obligations
and prerogatives of faculty self-governance, and apparently because of
intellectual differences and misunderstandings that prompt one
colleague to allegedly "feel afraid." That said, the efforts by the "she's crazy"
would be moot were it not for the fact that Board and Provost's office
want me out of NU because of my ongoing research on NU's prominent
role in the military-industrial-academic complex, research that uses
undergraduate research assistants, as they know from my article about this
2016: What was Reported
Slammer tells his FB friends not to credit my account of
the events of March 8--they weren't there and shouldn't write in my
support. But claiming
I "broke from reality" is not a factual claim about what happened.
It is a claim about the personality and psychology of the person
forward a narrative other than the one Slammer and his clique who
dislike me want to advance and can and should be refuted by evidence I
am not someone who would ever "break from reality."
Also, is my psychosis contagious?
the student who heard Slammer also have a "break from reality"?
In the event, here is a screen
shot from the statement of the student who overheard Slammer
Please note that the student points out that he made this statement to
the investigator and she omits it from the Executive Summary of her report.
March 8, 2016:
Slammer claims that I am a "disruptive person" and that in his position
of Associate Chair, this became
unbearable. The position of Associate Chair
in my department carries few responsibilities that put the person
holding this position, appointed by the Chair, in regular contact with
In fact, the meeting on Mach
8 was the second of just two
interactions Slammer had with me as an Associate Chair the entire
The first was in the fall, when I asked him to have the Advisory
Committee consider for including on the Department agenda the fact
that the Chair had cancelled the Department's election for Faculty
Senate. He told me she "has her reasons" for this -- I believe
it was to ensure I could not hold this position -- and that he was "close personal
friends" with the Chair. On this basis he refused my request to raise this matter with the Advisory Committee.
The colleagues who wrote the Dean, as well as Slammer, call me paranoid.
As one colleague in the Political Science Department told me recently,
apparently I was not paranoid enough. I knew the Chair
had cancelled the Department's fall election for the Faculty
Senate after failing in her efforts to dissuade me to run. (The Chair
and Slammer both intended he would assume that position without
opposition; apparently fearing he would lose a department election,
they cancelled it altogether.)
The Chair gave me an
explanation that was clearly pretextual and resulted in the
Department's Senator being an assistant professor who was on leave in
France. The Chair also had instructed staff to lie to me about how they
were handling the applications of students who were applying to work
for me under the auspicies of the Farrell Fellow program.
In the end, it seems I was right to be
suspicious of the reason Slammer provided me as to why he wanted to
my schedule: having me teach a seminar instead of the scheduled
large lecture class would cause less havoc with student schedules.
There is a third party involved (who did not
request this change) but I can say that a) the rationale
Slammer gave me is contradicted by the last five years of posted course
schedules; b) it fits the timing for pushing me out in the fall, a scheme they'd been cooking out for months or longer.
her April 29, 2016 letter to the Dean of Faculty, the Chair of
my department, who already had banned me from hiring undergraduate
research assistants, writes: "removing [Stevens] from the workplace in
of the start of the fall 2016 quarter is advisable, likely necessary."
The April 29 letter also states that "[Associate Provost] Lindsay
[Chase-Lansdale] and I have been conferring all year
" (emphasis added).
knew the Chair despised me -- she had been yelling at me and insulting
me for over a year -- but it never occurred to me that these
people would spend months and
months plotting with the Provost's office, NU's attorneys, and a hired
gun to try to remove from campus a productive, respected colleague who
was doing her job, including appropriately voicing questions and
stating reasonable concerns on matters that bear on faculty
More to come...