As members of the Faculty Senate Committee on the Status of Faculty of Color (FOC) at Temple University, we write to add our voice and support to the numerous letters sent over the past several days from Temple University faculty, staff, students, alumni and others defending and supporting Professor Marc Lamont Hill’s academic freedom to express his views onthe Israeli occupation of Palestine. The mission of the FOC is to advocate and support the hiring, promotion and retention of faculty of color. In keeping with our mission, we propose to go one step further and take this as an opportunity to undertake greater dialogue around the general status of faculty, in particular stakeholders of color (faculty, students and staff) at Temple and the wider academic community. The need for this dialogue is clear as evidenced by Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick J. O’Connor referring to Professor Hill’s comments as “lamentable,” “disgusting,”and his speech unnecessarily “blackens” the name of the university.
- We are concerned Professor Hill’s employment at the University andstatus as a tenured, holder of an endowed chair can be threatened for comments that were judged erroneously and as unprotected speech. We are all too aware that ‘what is done to one can be done to all.’ As faculty, none of us is exempt and any of us can be subjected to similar punishments at any time when arbitrary lines are crossed. History has taught us that discipline/punishment is often autocratic, capricious, authoritarian, and reactionary.
- We are concerned our labor, as faculty committed to social justice, is too often undervalued. Our work extends beyond what we do for/in the university as teachers and researchers; our bigger calling is in service to the larger cause of communities experiencing injustice, racism, and oppression. We joined the academy and specifically work at Temple where we find students of all colors who are like us in their commitment to social justice. We are obligated to speak out; “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
- We are concerned about the lack of open and honest dialogue that will bring more light to these issues and will produce the greatest good for the greatest number.
We appreciate these are very difficult times. We see this as an opportunity to have honest and brave conversations about uncomfortable issues such as those raised by Professor Hill.
Open dialogue, critical thinking, procedural transparency, and academic freedom are bedrock principles of the academy. Silencing conversation is antithetical to what we are encouraged to cultivate in our classrooms.
The Faculty Senate Committee on the Status of Faculty of Color is comprised of several faculty members across the university. The committee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.