Sunday, November 11, 2007

Prof. "Sue": Public Statements by a Public Figure

Lest anyone assume that Emeritus Professor Sharad Karkhanis has pulled his comments from thin air, the records of CUNY’s University Faculty Senate provide ample evidence to the contrary. At the April 5, 2005 plenary session of the UFS, chaired by Professor “Sue” O’Malley, the following resolution was passed:

“Statement on Recent Violations of Academic Freedom & Due Process

The University Faculty Senate of the City University of New York, committed to the First Amendment, in accordance with the AAUP definition of academic freedom, and to the belief that people are entitled to the State presumption of innocence, expresses its concern over local violations of personal and academic freedom that have resulted from political pressure in the current climate of fear.

We deplore the denial of due process for adjuncts in two recent cases, which in effect denies them academic freedom:

We deplore the decision by the Central Administration of CUNY to remove Mohammed Yousry in April 2002 from his post as an adjunct in Political Science at York College. Our disagreement with the Central Administration's decision in no way trivializes the federal charges against him, but addresses the Chancellery's refusal to initiate formal proceedings and to accord Mr. Yousry due process and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty and all legal processes are exhausted.

We deplore the exclusion of Susan Rosenberg from any further teaching at John Jay College of Criminal Justice as a result of a decision in December 2004 by President Jeremy Travis in response to complaints by a police fraternal organization and without appropriate faculty consultation. President Travis offered no academic grounds for the exclusion, and his decision compromises the long-held academic tradition of faculty self-governance in selecting who shall teach and what shall be taught.

Similarly, we deplore the actions of School Chancellor Joel Klein in removing Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi on February 15, 2005, from continuing to participate in faculty development workshops on the Middle East for high school teachers following political attacks on his person and his scholarship in the NY press, and we commend Columbia President Lee Bollinger for his support of Professor Khalidi's academic freedom.

We draw the attention of trustees and administrators to the observation by Professor Morris Raphael Cohen in 1940, following the dismissal of Bertrand Russell from City College under pressure from political and religious groups: "The citizens of New York are facing a grave and momentous crisis. Shall the education of our youth remain in the hands of competent and properly trained educators or shall the appointment and removal of professors be controlled by popular clamor of the ignorant?"

It is inexcusable that 65 years later we have to ask the same question.”

At the time, O’Malley was serving as both chair of the Executive Committee and the entire UFS. In those capacities, she oversaw the drafting and passage of the resolution. She was also a sitting member of the Executive Council of the Professional Staff Congress. Since O’Malley and her radical colleagues took control of two of the most powerful institutions within the City University of New York, they’ve raised the cris de coeur that “academic freedom” was being violated when they’ve failed to have their way. Their understanding of the First Amendment protections is rather partisan, to say the least.

As the details of the UFS and PSC reign of errors come to more light in the course of Prof. “Sue’s” lawsuit, we hope those paying for CUNY (tuition payers and the tax paying public alike) will insist on accountability from its the trustees and administrators. At the least, they should insist that extremists like O’Malley and Bowen not receive subsidies in the form of released time for their political antics. These weird sisters should, of course, be as free as Sharad Karkhanis to pronounce and publish what they’d like. But why should it be on the public’s dime and time?


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