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Exactly what's wrong with faculty and ___ on campus?

700 faculty sign letter calling for U of Texas President to be fired? Why? Because he cleared a tent city and allowed school to avoid shut down. Enforced the law. He never told students they couldn't protest...just they could unlawfully take over the school.

What a bomber opportunity to fire those profs so they can find a school somewhere else that aligns with their values.

Baby Boomer Professors Join Student Protests, Risking Arrest and Violence

Faculty take to the front lines at universities, often in support of students’ right to protest

People pray as New York University students set up a tent encampment at NYU Stern School of Business.

By Douglas Belkin and Melissa Korn, WSJ

May 4, 2024

More university professors are joining the demonstrations roiling college campuses, both to voice support for Gazans and to defend their students’ right to protest.

Faculty, many of whom are in their 60s and 70s and came of age during the era of Vietnam War protests, are pushing back against university presidents, accusing the leaders of heavy-handed and inconsistent crackdowns on free speech, and warning against a wave of authoritarianism some say has been creeping onto campuses for years. Professors in leadership positions are guiding calls for votes of no-confidence, spearheading classroom walkouts and visiting encampments alongside students. Many are facing punishment from police and their employers.

In recent days, police have arrested professors during demonstrations at schools including Washington University in St. Louis, Emory University and the University of California, Los Angeles.

At Indiana University, more than 3,000 faculty, graduate workers, students, staff and alumni have called for the resignation of President Pamela Whitten, saying she escalated confrontations between demonstrators and police last week by changing the rules of engagement for protesters at an encampment without adequately informing the campus.

In a statement, Whitten emphasized the school’s commitment to free speech and defended her actions, saying, “Antisemitic episodes have been linked to this national encampment campaign” and have “become magnets for those making threats of violence.”

At the University of Texas at Austin, more than 700 faculty signed a letter pushing for the school’s president, Jay Hartzell, to resign. The letter says he needlessly put students, staff and faculty in danger by calling in law enforcement to campus.

Demonstrators gathered and chanted briefly at the start of the commencement ceremony at the University of Michigan on Saturday. Photo: Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Pauline Turner Strong, a professor of anthropology and women’s and gender studies at UT Austin, said the show of force by police at a recent demonstration she attended was greater than other times since she started teaching there in 1993—except when there was an active shooter on campus.

In that case, “we really felt like we were being protected from an active threat,” she said. “In this case, it feels like the police are the actual violent threat.”

A spokesperson for the University of Texas said a host of weapons have been confiscated from protesters, and that both staff and police officers have been physically assaulted and threatened. “We will continue to safeguard the free speech and assembly rights of everyone on our campus, while we protect our university and students, who are preparing for their final exams.”

Faculty have a long history of criticizing their institutions, and in some cases supporting student movements like free speech in the 1960s and divestment from South Africa in the 1980s, said Robert Cohen, a professor of social studies and history at New York University who studies social protests and student movements.

In the current wave of campus unrest, he said, faculties have gone far beyond the types of advocacy they typically push: recommending a policy change via a university senate resolution or stopping by to express solidarity with students at a protest event.

“It’s really unusual for faculty to be willing to engage in disobedience and risk arrest,” Cohen said. “They tend to be more restrained.”

Faculty are partly voicing concern that administrators are ignoring standards of shared governance, a unique system in higher education that gives employees a greater voice than they generally have in the corporate world. Faculty are often awarded oversight of academic affairs, and have at least some say in student discipline and other university issues.

UT Austin’s Strong said the administration’s move to quell protests is part of a drift toward more top-down decision-making and authoritarian governance, which she attributes to cuts in public funding and a greater reliance on private donors.

Political pressure has also become a factor in university decision-making, with lawmakers, many Republican, taking aim at what they say are out-of-control campuses where antisemitism has spread unchecked.

Faculty of Columbia University linking arms to protect students threatened with suspension if they refused to voluntarily dismantle the pro-Palestinian encampment on Monday.

Some faculty across the country are counter demonstrating against Hamas and in support of Israel. But at many schools, professors have overwhelmingly supported the pro-Palestinian students.

At Columbia—an epicenter of the protests in recent weeks—solidarity with students seemed to grow after New York Police Department officers were called in to break up a large pro-Palestinian encampment last month and again earlier this week.

On Thursday, Columbia’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors called for the faculty to take a no-confidence vote in the university’s president, chief operating officer and board, citing the school leadership’s decision to call in city police to end the occupation of Hamilton Hall earlier in the week.

“Paired with the complete absence of good-faith negotiations, a sidelining of the faculty, closing of the campus, all of that has really damaged—irreparably damaged—our confidence in the administration going forward,” said Marcel Agüeros, an associate professor of astronomy and secretary of the Columbia AAUP.

A Columbia spokesperson said the president “continues to regularly consult with members of the community, including faculty, administration, and trustees, as well as with state, city, and community leaders. She appreciates the efforts of those working alongside her on the long road ahead to heal our community.”

Indiana education professor Barbara Dennis, 64 years old, was among those charged with trespassing on her campus last week at a protest advocating for Palestinians. She said she was there to register her anger at the continuing Israeli attacks and to protect her students.

Dozens of people at Indiana University were arrested by the Indiana State Police riot squad during a pro-Palestinian protest on campus last week.

She recalled the event as harrowing. When state police entered the protest area, she made a peace sign with her hands. A trooper stopped in front of her and asked her to step back. She refused. He asked again, and she again refused. Then he “bashed his body” against hers and ordered, “Step back or I’ll arrest you,” she said.

A second trooper placed zip ties around her wrists and pushed her to the ground, she said. She was charged with misdemeanor trespassing. Dennis said she was banned from campus for one year. She has appealed the ban.

On Wednesday night, Dartmouth College history professor Annelise Orleck was arrested along with about 90 other students and faculty after police were called in to shut down a protest on the campus green.

Orleck said she was part of a contingent of older faculty there to push back against what she described as the militarization of campuses, the abrogation of free speech and the treatment of Gazans, as well as to protect her students.

Orleck said the crackdowns signal that universities are heading in the wrong direction.

“This is an attempt to take away the rights of students to protest and the rights of faculty to teach what we want,” she said. “This is a very scary time.”

In a note to the Dartmouth community, President Sian Leah Beilock said school policy encourages free speech but not encampments or occupations that interfere with the functioning of the school.

“When policies like these have been ignored on other campuses, hate and violence have thrived—events, like commencement, are canceled, instruction is forced to go remote,” she wrote. “And, worst of all, abhorrent antisemitism and Islamophobia reign.”

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