California Association of Scholars: New Evidence of Politicization at UC

John M. Ellis

On April 2 the California Association of Scholars submitted to the Regents of the University of California its report: A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California.

Despite the volume and variety of the evidence that CAS presented in this report, both the faculty Senate and the University administration responded with only brief denials that UC had a problem of politicization, and both evaded any discussion of the case CAS had made.

Unfortunately for UC, recent events on the UCLA campus have made these denials look rather silly.  After a protest was lodged against an instructor for having used his official class website to promote the academic boycott of Israel, an important faculty committee unanimously supported his right to do so.

The CAS has now written to UC President Mark Yudof suggesting that he and the Senate might wish to consider revising their responses to the CAS report in light of this incontrovertible evidence that pro-politicization sentiment among UC faculty is rampant.  The text of our letter is given below.

A PDF version of the following letter is available here.

September 4, 2012

President Mark Yudof
University of California
1111 Franklin Street, 12th Floor
Oakland, CA 94607

Dear President Yudof,

As you know, we are preparing a rebuttal to the Senate's July 5 response to our report: "A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California." However, both the Senate's position and yours (April 6) have been overtaken by recent events at UCLA. You and the Senate have reflexively insisted that the University does not face a problem of classroom politicization. You must surely agree that the recent UCLA Committee on Academic Freedom ruling in the Shorter case makes it clear beyond any shadow of a doubt that it does.

An important Senate committee on a major campus has gone on record, without dissent in support of an instructor's right to use classes and state-funded facilities to promote his own political agenda. A unanimous committee must at a minimum represent a large segment of faculty opinion. The CAS judgment (page 49) as to the numerical strength of the faculty culture we described was therefore unambiguously confirmed by the CAF action at UCLA.

We should remind you that UCLA Senate chair Andrew Leuchter, also speaking for the campus administration, explains clearly and succinctly in his April 12 email why the action that CAF now defends was a very serious breach of classroom ethics and professional integrity.

Since both your own and the Senate's response to the CAS are now clearly outdated, we suggest that you and they might wish to review and revise those previously stated positions. We are of course quite willing to go ahead with our rebuttal of the Senate's existing response. However, we would suggest that a more realistic and honest dialogue could be had if both you and the Senate first came to terms with dramatic new evidence at UCLA that would appear to make nonsense of the responses to CAS that you currently have on record.

We shall hold the rebuttal we have drafted until we receive your advice.

John M. Ellis, President, CAS
Charles Geshekter, Chairman of the Board, CAS

cc Regents of the University of California
Academic Council Chair Anderson


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