As one who endured a suspension beginning on Veterans Day, 2002, I am in a unique position both from personal experience and knowledge of the literature to discourse on the Norman G. Finkelstein virtual suspension and summary dismissal during his terminal year at DePaul University. I am pleased that A.A.U.P. is finally adopting the tactics of F.I.R.E. in terms of rapidly and with celerity intervening in academic freedom and tenure cases that threaten the integrity of the academy.
A.A.U.P., in their letter to DePaul University President Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., referred to the Ninth Interpretive Comment of the “1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure” and the “1958 Statement on Procedural Standards in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings.”
Yet there is even another A.A.U.P. document that bears directly on the travesty that is being perpetrated against Dr Norman G. Finkelstein:
“Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure” (1957,1999):
See: 5: Dismissal Procedures:
“Pending a final decision by a hearing committee, the faculty member will be suspended or assigned to other duties in lieu of suspension, only if immediate harm to the faculty member or others is threatend by continuance. Before suspending a faculty member, pending an ultimate determination of the faculty member’s status through the institution’s hearing procedures, the administration will consult with the Faculty Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure [or whatever other title it may have] concerning the propriety, the length and the other conditions of the suspension.” AAUP Redbook, 10th Edition, p. 26.
DePaul University simply barred Professor Finkelstein from legitimately assuming his professional teaching duties during his terminal year. They even expelled him from his office. What is at play here is obvious. DePaul was hoping that by preventing Professor Finkelstein from returning to campus, that students, faculty and others would be less likely to engage in protest, robust criticism and demands for appropriate treatment of a professor who was recommended for tenure by his department and college. The allegation that inappropriate “behavior” merited this draconian action cannot simply be pronounced ex cathedra but must be subject to challenge and the right of refutation in appropriate due process proceedings. Faculty members should not be treated as “at will” employees who serve at the pleasure of an administration but as “managers” and “officers” who have rights.