University of Colorado Faculty Members Support Ward Churchill

Revolutionary Worker #1270, March 13, 2005, posted at

On Monday, February 28, a full-page ad appeared in Boulder's Daily Camera, signed by 199 faculty members of the University of Colorado at Boulder demanding that school officials halt their investigation of American Indian Studies Professor Ward Churchill. The ad, entitled "In Defense of Freedom of Speech," begins by quoting the Legal Director of the ACLU of Colorado saying that "Even if the 30-day investigation of Professor Churchill does not result in any action against him, the simple fact that he was formally investigated for his ideas will have a tremendous chilling effect on free speech."

The ad stands behind a February 10 Resolution by the Arts & Sciences Council on Issues of Academic Freedom and Due Process Raised in the Case of Professor Churchill, which "upholds the principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech as crucial to the fundamental mission of the university: the discovery, critical evaluation, and free dissemination of knowledge both as an intrinsic good in its own right and for the sake of the large society of which the university is a part." It defends Churchill's "right to speak what he believes to be the truth," and emphasizes that the "extraordinary.investigation" of his scholarly record "has been initiated in direct response to criticism of his ideas and without any prior formal complaint of specific professional or academic misconduct on his part." This review was expected to be completed by mid-March and a decision could come at any time. Those signing the ad include faculty from the College of Architecture and Planning, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Leeds School of Business, the School of Education, the College of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and the College of Music.

This ad represents a major and important development in the battle to oppose and reverse this witch hunt aimed at punishing Ward Churchill. In the face of unrelenting and mounting pressure, a large number of faculty at Boulder are taking a strong and courageous stand to oppose this major salvo in a nationally orchestrated right-wing campaign to purge the campuses of dissent and critical and radical thinking. In a glimpse of the atmosphere of intimidation in which these faculty have stepped forward, one of the signers quoted in the Daily Camera said that some faculty members who don't have the job security of tenure didn't feel comfortable signing the newspaper statement because of the political climate. And that others are avoiding controversial topics in their classrooms. "We're all thinking twice about what we're saying," said education professor Margaret LeCompte, and compared the climate to the McCarthy era.

All of this underscores the fact that the faculty at Boulder, who are stepping forward and putting themselves on the line, and the faculty generally, are in need of firm support from others, across the country and the world, in opposing this "review" and the overall witch hunt focused now against Ward Churchill.