Saturday, March 01, 2008

Mobilizing to Support Andrea Smith

Hey all,
I know at UBUNTU Andrea Smith work has been crucial to our analysis of white supremacy. This is BrownFemiPower's post about how people can get involved
Let's go.


Updates on Andrea Smith’s Tenure Case

As you may already know, the University of Michigan is in the process of denying Professor Andrea Smith tenure. Many of you asked how you could help, so I emailed around and got the following information:

My question is–what can we do?

Making a national fuss about this, plus the letter writing campaign to
the university, looks to be some concrete actions on the table for
now. Also proposed today was starting an online petition. Student
organizations might also plan some actions; we’re having a town hall
meeting next week at the university to see what ideas people come up

Who should we be addressing correspondence to?

All of the email addresses listed in the action alert, including

At what level was she denied tenure? (I.e. her department, the school, the provost, etc)

She received a positive rec. from:

Program in American Culture

She received a negative recommendation from

Dept of Women’s Studies
College of LS&A (departmental decisions go to LS&A, and they make a
judgment on those)

A decision is now pending on the provost level, after which it moves
to the president and the regents.

Is it possible to get a reason why she was denied tenure?

Not officially, as the faculty committees don’t release the results of
their deliberations publicly, although we have been trying to
communicate on unofficial as well as official levels with the

In what way can non-academics who have been influenced by her books help? In what capacity should those who haven’t been her students but are influenced academically write about her? For example, an academic on my site uses her books in her class and considers her book a fundamental part of Womens Studies–should she write an email? And if so, to whom?

They can
- write letters to the provosts and president (see Press Release and
Action Alert for some talking points)
- send the Press Release and Action Alert to as many people as they
know who are both affiliated with the University and who are not, or
blog about it
- attend the “Campus Lockdown” conference on March 15th
- as much as possible in public spaces, write about the university by
questioning its notion of tenure as meritocracy.

I think everyone should consider writing a letter, whether they are an
academic or not. They should address it to the addresses listed in
the action alert, and use some of the talking points listed in the
action alert. Those talking points generally emphasize, first her
merit as a scholar, and second her international impact as a thinker,
organizer, activist, teacher, and mentor.

What would be good to talk about in any letters?

You can say that Andrea’s
intellectual work is brilliant etc etc (which implicitly in this case,
it’s brilliant precisely because she can write complex ideas in clear
language). You can talk about how her writings and her research have
shifted contemporary thought in multiple sites across the nation. Etc
Letters should not bash the University for its inherent fucked-up
nature, but rather, letters should emphasize the great loss the UofM
community and surrounding communities will experience with Andrea
Smith gone, stuff along those lines.”

So at core this would be about her wide-ranging intellectual
contributions and that the university would experience a loss of a
towering public intellectual.

Would a blogging campaign help at all? Or would it be better to lay low for the moment?

At the moment we are trying to spread the word
to as many people as possible, while asking people to engage in
whatever actions they think are appropriate. The dialogue that
happens out in the blogosphere will definitely help with this - so a
huge thank you. If you’re in the area please consider attending
our town hall meeting, March 6, 11:30am-1pm in Haven Hall 3515 at
University of Michigan!

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