There is a foul stench at DePaul

Day of Shame for DePaul Administration; Resistance
On the resignation of Norman Finkelstein

(The following statement was passed out at DePaul by
activists and supporters of the National Project to
Defend Critical Thinking and Dissent in Academia.)

The first day of classes this year was a sad one for
DePaul University. After a year and more of
extraordinary pressure, as well as a concerted smear
campaign (which got extremely dirty with the recent
release of “internal memos”) – the Administration got
what they wanted: Norman Finkelstein will no longer be
a part of the life of DePaul. They have forced the
resignation of a remarkable thinker and teacher who
was well-respected by scholars and students alike,
they have violated the basic norms and practices of
the tenure process, and they have re-enforced a
terrible precedent setting in across the country.

On the same day, there was a very significant
outpouring of support and protest from students and
faculty at DePaul and elsewhere. An atmosphere of
debate and discussion erupted, where very quickly much
of the campus was discussing urgent matters of
academic freedom, and the future of critical thinking
and dissent on campus. People, including many
freshmen, boldly stepped forward and held a protest
and march which reverberated across the school.

It is unfortunate that things ended up with the
settlement and resignation of Professor Finkelstein.
This is not what many who stepped forward hoped for.

Finkelstein has said that he’s moving on. But we
cannot accept what the University has done, and we
cannot move on with business-as-usual. There is a foul
stench on campus. The DePaul Administration must be
held responsible for this deplorable and
unconscionable sequence of events. We cannot let stand
the completely unjust grounds upon which, nor the
process through which this was done; we must demand a
repudiation and apology from the Administration. This
goes against everything that the intellectual life of
a university is supposed to stand for.

This battle has both been very much about Norman
Finkelstein, but it’s also been about something much
bigger- the overall assault on critical thinking and
dissent on campuses. With the recent firing of
tenured-professor Ward Churchill at the University of
Colorado, the attacks on Middle East and Ethnic
Studies, and with the actions of David Horowitz, who
was brought to DePaul just this spring and who has
just announced plans for “Islamo-Fascism Awareness
Week” on campuses across the country in October- these
attacks are growing by leaps and bounds. And if the
whole process and grounds on which Norman Finkelstein
was forced to resign are not repudiated and apologized
for- then this opens the door for other attacks on
professors, and it further sets a chill onto campuses
everywhere. Now is the time for the resistance to both
spread much more broadly, and come forward even more
boldly. There’s not a minute to lose.

–Penny Brown and Samantha Hamlin, Supporters of the
National Project to Defend Critical Thinking and
Dissent in Academia,

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