Letter to the Editor: An open letter to President Barron, Provost Jones, Vice Provost for School Affairs Bieschke, Dean Lang, and President Bendapudi

This letter was written by a number of organizations at Penn State and in State School together with Coalition for a Simply College, College students Towards Sexist Violence, American Affiliation of College Professors, Schreyer Gender Fairness Coalition, NAACP State School Chapter, Coalition of Graduate Staff at Penn State College, Centre County Democratic Socialists of America, Alleghenies Abolition, Central Pennsylvania United, Liberal Arts Collective at Penn State.

The undersigned school, scholar and group organizations imagine that the Penn State administration is at present in violation of its personal AC70 procedures within the case of Oliver Baker, assistant professor of English and African American research.

We’re demanding administrative transparency, accountability and rectification. A current Chronicle of Larger Schooling article titled “The Professor and The Protester” states that on Jan. 10, 2022, “Lang notified Baker that, after consulting with Nicholas P. Jones, the provost, he would refer his case to the joint committee on tenure if Baker didn’t submit a letter of resignation by the shut of enterprise on Jan. 18, Baker stated in an e mail. Baker declined to take action.”

Given Baker’s refusal to resign, we will solely assume that, per the AC70 course of, Dean Lang and Provost Jones referred Baker’s case to the joint committee on tenure on or close to Jan. 18. The AC70 course of states that the committee serving as a college jury has 60 days from this date to carry a listening to and supply a verdict as a advice to President Eric Barron. On the time of this letter writing, April 14, college spokespersons say that Baker continues to be on depart pending college processes. It has been properly over 60 days.

This leaves us to imagine that what is occurring in Baker’s case is a procedural violation. This violation comes after directors disregarded the judgement of the authorized proceedings that cleared Baker of any wrongdoing. We will solely assume that what directors take into account grave misconduct in Baker’s case is the accusation of assaulting or hurting a scholar. The DA’s workplace withdrew this cost after an investigation decided there was no proof in any way to help this allegation.

We imagine it’s a misuse of AC70 coverage to topic a college member to termination proceedings for a similar allegation {that a} DA’s workplace decided was utterly baseless. Now, directors seem like violating AC70 timeline procedures in Baker’s case.

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Judging by these misapplications and procedural violations, the Penn State administration seems to be manipulating the AC70 course of to fireplace Baker, destroying the profession of an harmless professor who peacefully helped guarantee the protection of scholars and school from a violent provocateur at a campus rally.

This misuse and violation of college guidelines is an infringement on the rights of the Penn State school and scholar our bodies, and threatens to undermine the democratic values of our college and the rights of scholars and school.

School have a proper to voice criticism of Penn State directors. Baker was supporting school speech that criticized administrative insurance policies. The Penn State administration’s obvious misuse and now manipulation of AC70 procedures towards Baker for his actions supporting such speech have infringed upon and chilled the college’s proper to voice criticism of the administration.

Marginalized college students have a proper to equal instructional alternatives and to safe educational and cultural areas that signify them; these violations by Penn State directors have undermined the areas and security of marginalized college students and broken the African American research division. 

Girls college students have a proper to really feel secure on campus and have faith that conduct violations and restorative justice processes relating to abusers should not empty and meaningless in follow. The violent provocateur used sexist slurs towards rally-goers.

Misogyny motivated his aggressive actions. Directors have handled the provocateur as a sufferer quite than as a perpetrator of sexist abuse. These violations by Penn State directors have made ladies college students really feel unsafe and undermined their confidence that abusers might be held accountable or be prevented from committing abuse.

College students have a proper to give attention to their research with out spending undue time defending their rights on campus. These violations by Penn State directors have required college students to take time away from their research and spend huge quantities of labor protesting these abuses whereas advocating for justice on campus. 

College students and school have a proper to be fairly secure from far-right extremism; these violations have led to the help for far-right extremism on Penn State campuses. Directors’ failure to carry accountable the provocateur whereas subjecting Baker to AC70 procedures is a tacit endorsement of the provocateur’s violent actions over the speech of scholars and school throughout the campus rally that was criticizing directors.

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This tacit help emboldens the far-right extremist actions on campus that the provocateur was selling on the rally. These far-right actions intensify rape tradition and provides rise to hate speech and crimes, particularly endangering the protection of marginalized college students and school, and have made college workers really feel unsafe and powerless of their office.

The Penn State group has a proper to democratic norms being upheld on campus together with the fitting to be free from persecution and retaliation totally free speech that criticizes administrative insurance policies. These violations have led to the undemocratic persecution of a college member who nonviolently protected the speech and security of scholars and school from a threatening provocateur who disrupted a campus rally.

As proven in court docket, this aggressive provocateur’s actions — not his speech — created harmful circumstances wherein the provocateur engaged in bodily altercations with peaceable rally-goers who had been exercising their proper to protected speech in an orderly, secure method earlier than this provocateur violently disrupted the rally. As defined in court docket, Baker and different rally attendees had been unaware that this provocateur had any relationship to Penn State.

Via the provocateur’s personal actions and his repeated, flagrant violations of Penn State’s values and norms, this provocateur singlehandedly initiated a harmful scenario for all concerned together with himself. Regardless of quite a few rally attendees asking the provocateur to specific his views peacefully and welcoming him to hitch different peaceable counter demonstrators, the provocateur continued to bodily disrupt the rally, shoving and ultimately attacking rally-goers, injuring himself as he did so.

Photographic proof included within the Chronicle of Larger Schooling article show conclusively that Baker didn’t assault or damage this provocateur, nor did Baker commit any irresponsible actions that put anybody in peril of hurt. Baker did the alternative. His actions elevated the protection on campus within the face of the damaging circumstances the provocateur had created — all these factors had been argued in court docket and Baker was exonerated of all fees towards him.

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We demand transparency and accountability by asking that Penn State directors clarify their processes and causes for what we imagine is a manipulation of the AC70 course of within the case of Baker. As proven by quite a few letters, petitions, statements, rallies and demonstrations, college students and school need Baker right here and acknowledge that he didn’t commit any motion nearing “grave misconduct” whereas defending the rights of scholars and school to protected speech.

In distinction to the overwhelming majority of people that acknowledge Baker’s innocence and who need Baker to stay at Penn State, solely a small handful of directors need Baker faraway from Penn State and contend that the wildly misapplied cost of “grave misconduct” matched this school member’s purported offense.

We additionally name upon Barron to rectify what we imagine is an administrative misapplication and now manipulation of the AC70 course of. We ask Barron to uphold his institutional dedication to the protection, expression, and rights of the scholars and school of this college by reinstating Baker to his full duties as quickly as potential.

We ask that Barron comply with the judgement of the Centre County District Lawyer’s Workplace that Baker didn’t commit assault. We ask that Barron comply with the judgement of Honorable Steven F. Lachman’s that Baker didn’t harass an aggressive provocateur on the campus rally. These are the one allegations for which the cost of grave misconduct may probably apply. 

In case Barron doesn’t resolve this drawback and reinstate Baker, we name upon incoming President Neeli Bendapudi to uphold the judgement of the DA’s Workplace and the court docket of legislation in Baker’s case, and restore the college, workers, and college students’ belief in Penn State directors by absolutely reinstating Baker to his full duties as quickly as potential.

This open letter has rolling signatures. Please e mail [email protected] so as to add your group’s title to the signatories.