Academic Freedom Update: Ithaca College Persecution of Margo Ramlal-Nankoe

Here is an update letter from Margo: Received via e-mail February 4, 2010

Dear Supporters and Friends,

I am writing to update you on my Ithaca College tenure case.

For the first time in 11 years, I did not start the Fall semester as a professor in the Sociology Department at Ithaca College. I am deeply saddened by this and I have truly missed the campus and my opportunity to engage students and interact with my peers.

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Despite this dramatic absence in my life, I have been busy telling my story, interacting with cherished supporters and collaborating with other professors in similar situations. I am also very happy to announce that I have just accepted a position to teach in the Sociology Department at Hunter College in New York City.

Below, I would like to highlight some of the truly inspirational interactions I have had over the past few months:

*After speaking on the “Defending Academic Freedom Today“ panel at the summer Socialism ’09 Conference in Chicago, a group of concerned faculty, students and citizens formed a group called Free the Academy. This group is working on organizing material for my case. The hope is to create a presence in academia that addresses academic freedom of progressive and left leaning faculty who are under attack. I invite you to join and contribute your ideas and abilities.

*This past fall I was invited to speak on a panel called “Israel and US Academic Censorship,” at the Peace and Justice Studies Association Conference “Exploring the Power of Nonviolence,” at Marquette University. Other panelists included Professor Joel Kovel, who as many of you know, was fired from his position at Bard College last year for his critical scholarly work on Zionism. Professor Chris Toffolo was a respondent on this panel. Chris was removed from her position as director of the Justice and Peace Studies Program at St. Thomas University in Minnesota after she protested the administration’s banning of Bishop Tutu from speaking at St. Thomas in 2007. Tutu was labeled anti-semitic for his criticism of Israeli politics in Palestine. As vice-president of academic affairs at St. Thomas in 2007, the current president of Ithaca College, Thomas Rochon was responsible for removing Chris Toffolo from her position.

*I have received endorsements from well-established advocacy groups including Academics for Justice and California Scholars for Academic Freedom.

*I have also started working with the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and hope to find other groups that will look closely at the sexual harassment elements in my case. Please share any contacts you may have with academic women’s groups, feminist organizations or employment law groups specializing in job discrimination.

*Also, look for online articles about my case in two recent publications:

– My story was recently published in the newsletter of ‘We Advocate Gender Equality’ (WAGE) and should be posted on their online site soon at

– I was recently interviewed by Nora Barrows-Friedman for Electronic Intifada. Here is the article:

*I have been invited on two panels this summer:

The first will be on “Scholar Activism” at the US Social Forum in Detroit, and the second on “Academic Freedom” will be at the Labor Section of the annual American Sociological Association in Atlanta.

Here is the current status of my case. I am waiting for the results of the New York State Division of Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Employment Commission’s investigations of my discrimination charges against Ithaca College. My hope is that if found in violation, Ithaca College will prefer to settle my case outside of court. Otherwise, we will have to proceed to the next level, which is court.

I will continue my struggle against Ithaca College and I demand and ask my supporters to demand that:

1. Ithaca College grant me tenure and restore me rightfully back to my teaching position which I have held for 12 years.

2. Ithaca College take responsibility for all damages I suffered through my tenure ordeal which started in 2005 and has continued until today. These include, racist and sexist attacks, sexual harassment, academic freedom violations, jeopardizing my legal status in the US by denying my work visa while under contract, as a result, forcing me out of the country and preventing me to teach my final semester of classes.

On that note, I am looking for ways to help to defray my legal costs. If you know of any grants for legal funding for such cases, please send this information along. My email address is

Thank you for all your support.


Margo Ramlal-Nankoe

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