LETTERS

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October 8, 2017

Professors Demand Administration Stop Censoring Healthy Debate About Unionization

Dear President Zimmer, Provost Diermeier, and Dean Rasmussen,

For years the University of Chicago administration has been waging a campaign against graduate student worker unionization involving informational meetings with groups of graduate students, web page postings and emails from the central administration, and deans expressing opposition.

Despite this lengthy and intense campaign, in spring quarter, Graduate Students United (GSU) managed to garner sufficient cards to proceed with a vote on unionization. The University administration took the case to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) claiming that graduate students are not employees. The NLRB rejected this claim and allowed GSU to proceed with the vote. In his email from August 11 the provost informed the University community that the administration will appeal the NLRB decision.

The attempts of the administration to prevent these elections using legal proceedings are causing serious harm to the University of Chicago and to the atmosphere of free academic inquiry and debate essential to the functioning of a university. First, the arguments presented by the University lawyers at the hearings allowed administrators to present distorted descriptions of the role of graduate students in the University, causing severe damage to the relationship between the University and its graduate students as well as presenting an unappealing image of how education is managed in the university to the outside world.

More importantly, the attempt to resolve this issue using legal means has undermined the very idea of open debate in the University. It negates the idea that we trust the community as a whole—students, faculty and administrators—to openly discuss an issue and resolve it internally through democratic procedures. The administration's control of the instruments of communication hardly squares with its commitment to freedom of expression—as freedom depends on equal access.

Whether one is for or against graduate student worker unionization, this matter should be resolved through a robust campus-wide debate allowing all sides to express their opinions, followed by a vote by the graduate students.

Therefore, we the undersigned tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty members at the University of Chicago request the University administration refrain from contesting the latest NLRB decision from August 8 ordering a graduate student employee vote on October 18 2017.

Denis Hirschfeldt, Professor, Department of Mathematics

Robert L. Kendrick, Professor, Department of Music

Gary Herrigel, Paul Klapper Professor in the College and Social Sciences Division, Department of Political Science

Travis A. Jackson, Associate Professor, Department of Music

William Mazzarella, Department Chair and Neukom Family Professor of Anthropology and of Social Sciences, Department of Anthropology

James Wilson, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

Matthew Briones, Associate Professor, Department of History

Zach Samalin, Assistant Professor, Department of English Language and Literature

Choudhri Naim, Professor Emeritus, Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations

Elizabeth Helsinger, John Matthews Manly Distinguished Service Professor Emerita, Department of English Language and Literature and Department of Art History

Mark Miller, Associate Professor, Department of English Language and Literature

Miguel Martínez, Assistant Professor, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures

Michael Dawson, John D. MacArthur Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science

Alireza Doostdar, Assistant Professor, Divinity School

Sonali Thakkar, Assistant Professor, Department of English Language and Literature

Linda Zerilli, Charles E. Merriam Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Political Science

Daniel Morgan, Associate Professor, Department of Cinema and Media Studies

Elaine Hadley, Professor, Department of English Language and Literature

François Richard, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology

Cornell Fleischer, Kanuni Suleyman Professor of Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and Department of History

William Sites, Associate Professor, School of Social Service Administration

Loren Kruger, Professor, Department of Comparative Literature and Department of English Language and Literature

John McCormick, Professor, Department of Political Science

William J. T. Mitchell, Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor, Department of English Language and Literature

Anton Ford, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy

Norma Field, Robert S. Ingersoll Distinguished Service Professor Emerita, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations

Bruce Lincoln, Caroline E. Haskell Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, History of Religions, Divinity School

Willemien Otten, Professor, Theology and History of Christianity, Divinity School

Alida Bouris, Associate Professor, School of Social Service Administration

Jonathan Hall, Phyllis F. Horton Distinguished Service Professor, Department of History and Department of Classics

Leora Auslander, Arthur and Joann Rasmussen Professor, Department of History

Amy Dru Stanley, Associate Professor, Department of History

Mark Bradley, Bernadotte E. Schmitt Distinguished Service Professor, Department of History

Elizabeth Asmis, Professor, Department of Classics

Adom Getachew, Neubauer Family Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

Christian Wedemeyer, Associate Professor, History of Religions, Divinity School

Julie Orlemanski, Assistant Professor, Department of English Language and Literature

Janet Johnson, Morton D. Hull Distinguished Service Professor, Oriental Institute, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Mel Rothenberg, Professor Emeritus, Department of Mathematics

Susan Gal, Mae & Sidney G. Metzl Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Anthropology and Department of Linguistics

William Sewell, Frank P. Hixon Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science and Department of History

Katherine Taylor, Associate Professor, Department of Art History

Joel Snyder, Professor, Department of Art History

Howard Stein, Professor Emeritus, Department of Philosophy

Mario Santana, Associate Professor, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures

Judith Farquhar, Max Palevsky Professor of Anthropology Emerita, Department of Anthropology

James Hevia, Professor, Department of History

Whitney Cox, Associate Professor, Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations

Kristen Schilt, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology

Jonathan Levy, Professor, Department of History

Faith Hillis, Associate Professor, Department of History

Patrick Jagoda, Associate Professor, Department of English and Department of Cinema and Media Studies

Ghenwa Hayek, Assistant Professor, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Darryl Li, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology

Colleen Grogan, Professor, School of Social Service Administration

Eric Santner, Philip and Ida Romberg Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Germanic Studies

Richard Neer, William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Art History and Department of Cinema and Media Studies

Christopher Kennedy, William H. Colvin Professor, Department of Linguistics

Janel Mueller, William Rainey Harper Distinguished Professor Emerita, Division of the Humanities and Department of English

Marshall Sahlins, Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology

Alison James, Associate Professor, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures

Linda Collins, Senior Lecturer, Department of Statistics

Ada Holly Shissler, Associate Professor, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Kendra Burbank, Lecturer, Department of Statistics

Matam Murthy, Professor Emeritus, Department of Mathematics

Tyler Williams, Assistant Professor, Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations

Matthew Boyle, Professor, Department of Philosophy

Dan Arnold, Associate Professor, Divinity School

Yali Amit, Professor, Department of Statistics

Loretta Au, William H. Kruskal Instructor, Department of Statistics

Clifford Ando, David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor, Department of Classics and Department of History

Nancy Munn, Professor Emerita, Department of Anthropology

Daisy Delogu, Professor, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures

Kenneth Warren, Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor, Department of English

Peter McCullagh, John D. MacArthur Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Statistics

Jonathan Weare, Associate Professor, Department of Statistics

Kay Heikkinen, Ibn Rushd Lecturer of Arabic, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Susan Lambert, Associate Professor, School of Social Service Administration

Christopher Taylor, Assistant Professor, Department of English

James Lastra, Associate Professor, Department of Cinema and Media Studies and Department of English

Jennifer Cole, Professor, Department of Comparative Human Development

Demetra Kasimis, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

Michael Dietler, Professor, Department of Anthropology

Agnes Lugo-Ortiz, Associate Professor, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures

Salomé Aguilera Skvirsky, Assistant Professor, Department of Cinema and Media Studies

Edgar Garcia, Neubauer Family Assistant Professor, Department of English Language and Literature

Andreas Glaeser, Professor, Department of Sociology

Adrian Johns, Allan Grant Maclear Professor, Department of History

Paola Iovene, Associate Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations

Shannon Dawdy, Professor, Department of Anthropology

Emily Lynn Osborn, Associate Professor, Department of History

Allyson Nadia Field, Associate Professor, Department of Cinema and Media Studies

Eugene Raikhel, Associate Professor, Department of Comparative Human Development

Laura Weinrib, Professor, Law School

Edwin Kite, Assistant Professor, Department of Geophysical Sciences

William Schweiker, Edward L. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor of Theological Ethics, Divinity School

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Read Bernie Sanders' Letter to UofC Grad Students Ahead of Unionization Vote

By Maroon Staff

"I understand this fall you will be voting in an election to determine whether Graduate Student employees at the University of Chicago will have the right to union representation."

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