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Letter Issued in Trinity Prof Suspension Case

The AAUP today issued a letter to Joanne Berger-Sweeney, president of Trinity College, urging her to immediately reinstate professor Johnny Eric Williams to his normal faculty duties. Professor Williams, an associate professor of sociology with twenty-one years of service at Trinity College, was placed on leave Monday evening after being targeted with of a flood of threats following reports about his social media postings by the right-wing media outlet Campus Reform. (More background information here.)

The AAUP has long held that academic freedom includes the freedom to address the larger community with regard to any matter of social, political, economic, or other interest without institutional discipline or restraint, save in response to fundamental violations of professional ethics or statements that suggest disciplinary incompetence. Thus, the AAUP is concerned that the administration’s actions may have violated Williams’s academic freedom. It also appears that the action taken against Williams is entirely at odds with normative standards of academic due process. We have invited the administration to supply any additional information that might contribute to our understanding of what has occurred.

Williams's case comes at a time of heightened targeted harassment of faculty. We condemn the practice of bombarding faculty members and institutions of higher education with threats. Such threatening messages are likely to stifle free expression and cause faculty and others on campus to self-censor so as to avoid being subjected to similar treatment.

Read the full letter.

Sign a statement against targeted harassment of faculty.


Publication Date: 
Tuesday, June 27, 2017