Boycotting DePaul


Officials at DePaul University caved to pressure from pro-Israel ideologues, denying tenure for Norman Finkelstein, an outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights–and then announced that they were withholding tenure for another professor who actively supported Finkelstein’s cause.

But students at DePaul are taking action in opposition to the university’s rulings, which amount to a pink slip for Finkelstein and Mehrene Larudee, two of the more progressive professors on the Chicago campus.

Finkelstein’s bid for tenure was opposed by his long-time adversary, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, who spent the last several years harassing DePaul faculty and staff with e-mails and documents that slandered Finkelstein.

Nevertheless, Finkelstein’s application for tenure was strongly supported by the political science department and personnel committee of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. But DePaul’s dean opposed tenure, as, apparently, did the University Board on Tenure and Promotion (UBTP).

Students and faculty came to Finkelstein’s defense, organizing a petition of support and holding pickets and meetings to draw attention to the case, as the issue went to DePaul’s president, Father Dennis Holtschneider, for a final decision.

The university’s rejection of Finkelstein was announced June 8, at the start of finals week.

If Finkelstein’s tenure bid was always controversial because of the intervention of Dershowitz and other pro-Israel ideologues, the rejection of Larudee was a shock. Her application had been unanimously approved at every previous level of the tenure process, and she was preparing to take over as chair of the university’s International Studies program.

Larudee’s supporters among faculty say the only reason they can think of for the decision is that she spoke out in defense of Finkelstein–and her brother is also involved in working for justice for Palestine.

* * *

WHEN HOLTSCHNEIDER’S decision was announced June 8, at the start of finals week, angry student supporters of the two popular professors met to plan for actions.

On the following Monday, June 11, 12 students entered Holtschneider’s offices at 8:30 a.m., where they were greeted by Campus Safety, making clear that news of a planned sit-in had reached the president.

The students met with Holtschneider at 3 p.m. By this time, there were at least 20 students and three alumni present. The students listed their demands, including a public apology to the two professors and a reversal of Holtschneider’s tenure decisions. Holtschneider said he would not change his mind.

The students were thrown out of Holtschneider’s office under threat of expulsion, and a faculty member and two alumni attorneys were threatened with arrest if they remained. Students then moved the sit-in to the Student Center on DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus, where they remained until they were threatened with arrest. Two students then camped outside the campus rectory.

At graduation ceremonies on June 17, students in the audience dropped two banners reading "Tenure for Finkelstein and Larudee" when the university provost began to speak. Nearly 25 graduates refused to shake Holtschneider’s hand, instead handing him a letter to inform him they would not be supporting the university financially or otherwise because of the tenure decisions.

There is an ongoing dispute between the administration and faculty at DePaul over the question of an appeals process for tenure decisions. The administration maintains that there is no appeals process, and the faculty insists there is.

The Faculty Council of the university and the Faculty Governance Council of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences each voted to authorize an appeals process, and the Faculty Governance Council voted unanimously to investigate the UBTP. Censure of the administration is also being discussed.

Students will begin a fast, starting June 25, to ensure that the administration knows their commitment is unwavering, and it will not be able to sweep this scandal under the rug during summer break.

A boycott of DePaul has been called, meaning that students are encouraged not to attend, and academics are asked not to speak on campus or apply for jobs there. The American Association of University Professors is considering censuring DePaul.

KATHRYN WEBBER writes for the Socialist Worker.


Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability
Yves Engler
Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Mining Industry
Tom H. Hastings
ISIS and Changing the Game
John Halle
A Yale Education as a Tool of Power and Privilege
Norman Pollack
Syrian “Civil War”?: No, A Proxy War of Global Confrontation
Sheldon Richman
Let the Refugees In
Ron Jacobs
Rosa Luxembourg–From Street Organizer to Street Name
James A Haught
The Values of Jesus
Binoy Kampmark
British Austerity: Cutting One’s Own Backyard
Ed Rampell
45 Years: A Rumination on Aging
November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving
Joseph Grosso
The Enduring Tragedy: Guatemala’s Bloody Farce
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Imperial Myths: the Enduring Lie of the US’s Origin
Ralph Nader
The Joys of Solitude: a Thanksgiving!

Joseph G. Ramsey
Something to be Thankful For: Struggles, Seeds…and Surprises
Dan Glazebrook
Turkey Shoot: the Rage of the Impotent in Syria
Andrew Stewart
The Odious President Wilson
Colin Todhunter
Corporate Parasites And Economic Plunder: We Need A Genuine Green Revolution
Rajesh Makwana
Ten Billion Reasons to Demand System Change
Joyce Nelson
Turkey Moved the Border!
Richard Baum
Hillary Clinton’s Meager Proposal to Help Holders of Student Debt
Sam Husseini
A Thanksgiving Day Prayer
November 25, 2015
Jeff Taylor
Bob Dylan and Christian Zionism
Dana E. Abizaid
Provoking Russia
Oliver Tickell
Syria’s Cauldron of Fire: a Downed Russian Jet and the Battle of Two Pipelines
Patrick Cockburn
Trigger Happy: Will Turkey’s Downing of Russian Jet Backfire on NATO?
Robert Fisk
The Soothsayers of Eternal War
Russell Mokhiber
The Coming Boycott of Nike
Ted Rall
Like Father Like Son: George W. Bush Was Bad, His Father May Have Been Worse
Matt Peppe
Bad Policy, Bad Ethics: U.S. Military Bases Abroad
Martha Rosenberg
Pfizer Too Big (and Slippery) to Fail
Yorgos Mitralias
Bernie Sanders, Mr. Voutsis and the Truth Commission on Greek Public Debt
Jorge Vilches
Too Big for Fed: Have Central Banks Lost Control?
Sam Husseini
Why Trump is Wrong About Waterboarding — It’s Probably Not What You Think
Binoy Kampmark
The Perils of Certainty: Obama and the Assad Regime
Roger Annis
State of Emergency in Crimea
Soud Sharabani
ISIS in Lebanon: An Interview with Andre Vltchek
Thomas Knapp
NATO: This Deal is a Turkey