Brand NU
Response to Alvin Tillery and Sara Monoson

September 4, 2016

A colleague tells me that Alvin Tillery posted a statement on FB stating that "the University's
investigation, which Professor Stevens requested, cleared me!"

Like much of Tillery's narrative, it is misleading.  The university administration may be covering up what Tillery did to me, but he has yet to be "cleared" by any independent investigative body.  Moreover, the full report of the administration's paid attorney, which Tillery seems to have been referencing, has yet to be released.
The Investigation
The truth is that Northwestern's attorney Stephanie Graham mandated this investigation weeks after I requested NU indemnify me against Tillery's April 6 demand letter, per my contract. Tillery, without approaching me advance, without requesting a mediator (as I have, repeatedly), without filing a formal misconduct complaint requesting disciplinary action through the university, threatened to sue me if I didn't retract the accurate information I reported about him yelling at me and slamming the door.

NU on their initiative, not mine, brought in a corporate education attorney colleagues have criticized because of her pro-corporate, anti-free speech, anti-faculty endeavors. The attorney, Kathleen Rinehart, told me she is close with the NU attorneys and has frequently worked for them. She is in the OGC at St. Xavier University, co-authored an article on how to fire tenured faculty and tried, unsuccessfully, to require faculty traveling among St. Xavier campus sites to submit to mandatory, random urine drug-testing. 

Rinehart, who bullied and insulted me during her meeting with me, failed to note what the student who heard Tillery yelling at me told her and confirmed the account consistent with her friends in NU's OGC trying to push me out.

The Chronicle article quotes Sara Monoson, the Political Science Department Chair, as stating that "Prof. Stevens' research and political views have no bearing on this matter whatsoever."  Her position is that the fact I question her for, say, cancelling the department's election for Faculty Senate is not related to my research or my political views, and that such questioning proves my "incivility," as she recently stated in an email to my colleagues. 

Not only is Monoson wrong to depoliticize faculty self-governance -- the main allegations of "incivility" are related to questions I pose in the context of department business  --  she disregards the connection between Tillery's and others' antipathy toward me and the fact that this finds traction at the University level.  The Chronicle quotes Tillery stating he finds my behavior "creepy," and that this is why he feels unsafe around me, actually, why he fears I might shoot him!  (I know the article also includes his allegation that I hysterically fantasized he was yelling at me when he was not, but since I know this didn't happen, the only possible basis I see for his claims about fearing I will shoot him is that he finds me "creepy.")

I find colleagues who gossip publicly and scheme to drive out those whom they dislike instead of doing research and working constructively to resolve petty interpersonal antipathies are the real creeps. Were it not for the fact I have embarassed NU for its creepy behavior, NU's lawyers would have told Monoson and Tillery to focus on their own work and leave me alone.

Should we be afraid of asking questions, being queer, placing a high value on integrity, because Sara Monoson -- and two colleagues who are key to this and have managed to pull the strings without their names being public as of yet -- might state this is uncivil, or because Al Tillery might find those questions unsettling? In short, Monoson wants me out because I question her questionable activities; Tillery wants me out because I trigger his insecurities; and NU is working with them because the trusteees who produce missiles for cluster bombs are threatened by my research and publications, not because I am going to shoot someone.  

Monoson is known for her close ties to the lame duck Provost, Dan Linzer, apparently ousted for screwing up the Eikenberry appointment. Indeed, Monoson, in coordination with Linzer, recruited faculty to sign her April letter on behalf of Eikenberry.  I am aware of no Buffett working groups to which Monoson belongs and have never seen her at any Buffett events. Why did she bother undertaking this campaign on Linzer's and Eikenberry's behalf, one she hid from most of the Department until the letter was released at the Faculty Senate meeting that reviewed a last-minute motion on Eikenberry's behalf?

Why are some of my colleagues in Political Science going to sign a letter to the Dean on behalf of Tillery?  Other than the patronage politics at play in NU, I suspect the reason some colleagues dislike me is the same as the reason many appreciate me, including those in my department.  While I am a social being and value collegiality, I understand collegiality, especially in a university, to require honesty and integrity. I value these qualities more than I value people liking me.  I do not set out to alienate people, but if I come to seem alien to them, it may be because I do not (over) value their desire for my conformity, in research, in scholarship, and in pedagogy.   Just as they earned the right to advance professionally by following tacit rules, my PhD earned me the prerogative to challenge these rules.

Monoson finds it outrageous that I might question her integrity.  But where's the integrity in sharing my March 8 complaint about Tillery with Tillery, with whom Monoson is close friends, but never sharing with me his allegations about me? No one, including Rinehart, had the decency to let me respond, including to request a retraction, per Tillery's demand letter to me. Not until reading The Chronicle last night did I first encounter Tillery's absurd narrative and rationale for banning me.

It was evident in that time frame, from statements made by Rinehart and another colleague, that NU's lawyers were working closely with Monoson and Tillery. If this wasn't a set up, and was a legit, fair approach to a disputed incident, why not at least share with me Tillery's complaint about me? Why not investigate my complaint about him when I first made it, per normal procedures, which would involve Human Resources, and not NU attorneys in the OGC bringing in their crony and pro-corporate anti-faculty university attorney months later?

Also, if Monoson is concerned about disruption, why abandon her normal obligations to run the department to indulge a witch hunt that escalates off the charts the faculty and student anxiety, insecurity, intimidation, disorientation, frustration, and general chaos that comes from banning me in violation of common sense and Univesrsity policies?

If Monoson is concerned about students, then why disrupt their research and learning?   I have heard through third parties my students are extremely upset to have their needs entirely disregarded.

If Monoson is such a professional as to pronounce me unprofessional, why not affirm my proposal to at least try to resolve our differences with a mediator?  (My hunch is that they realize that if they shared the underlying substance of our disagreements with an objective third party, the pro-ban folks would come off as whiny bullies, petulant about being called out on their harassment and abuse of me.)

Okay, that's it for now, except to express the deepest gratitude to my colleagues, NU alumni, and students who have been writing the Dean ( and copying my attorney Rima Kapitan,  I will be posting later some excerpts of their analyses. A common theme seems to be that NU's policies are foreign to U.S. norms of academic freedom and due process.  People recognize them in the policies of Turkey, Qatar, and other Gulf States, where one can discuss only events that occur elsewhere and also must never question leaders or their prerogatives.  These letters have been coming in from far and wide, from the adult son of a colleague, a graduate student whom I'd first encountered when he was in elementary school in California, to a grad student I taught in Istanbul in 2003, to people I've never met but have endured similar experiences elsewhere around the world, including Sweden and New Zealand, where neo-liberal corporate university policies also are finding a foothold.