Open Letter in support of student protesters who were arrested at UT Austin on April 23

(to sign, please tweet me at @sshingavi)

To the University of Texas, Austin administration:

We, the undersigned, members of the UT community are troubled by the arrest of peaceful protesters at the Office of the President on April 23, 2014. Non-violent student protest ought to be met not with criminalization but with negotiations and dialogue.

Students were sitting-in to protest the University of Texas’s decision to proceed with the implementation of Shared Services, a proposal that would restructure the operations of the University of Texas by eliminating 500 departmental staff positions. Not only has such a proposal been subject to serious debate and misgivings on the part of members of the campus community, it has been met with opposition in all of the other universities where it has been implemented. The elimination of departmental staff positions not only means that the university will be able to provide fewer services to students and faculty at UT, it also means that the services that are provided will be offered by people doing the work of those who have been laid off. Such a restructuring of the university not only threatens the educational mission of the university but it also undermines some of the university’s best resources and talents.

The criminalization of non-violent student protest has a long history at UT Austin, including the arrests of the UT-10 in 1999, the arrests of anti-war protesters in 2003, and the arrest of anti-sweatshop activists in 2012. This pattern of criminalizing dissent unnecessarily creates a climate in which students are unable to raise their own concerns about changes taking place at the university and in the broader community.

We think that it is time for this pattern of responding to protest with police to stop in favor of a policy of active engagement with student concerns. We encourage the University of Texas and the Travis County Attorney to drop the charges against the students arrested yesterday. We encourage the University to revise its policies in dealing with student protesters. But most importantly, we encourage the University of Texas to rethink its commitment to the staff who work tirelessly to make UT Austin the flagship university of Texas and to reconsider its implementation of Shared Services.

 

Sincerely,

Sincerely,

A. Naomi Paik, Asst. Professor, American Studies, UT Austin

Aaron Bady, Postdoctoral Fellow, English, UT Austin

Amanda Gray, Graduate Student, American Studies, UT Austin

Ana Minian, Harrington Faculty Fellow, Center for Mexican American Studies, UT Austin

Anam Bangash, undergraduate, UT Austin

Anindya Dey, Graduate Student, Physics, UT Austin

Anne Lewis, Sr. Lecture, Radio Television Film, UT Austin

Ashlyn Davis, graduate student, American Studies, UT Austin

Barbara Harlow, Professor, English, UT Austin

Ben Carrington, Associate Professor, Sociology and African and African Diaspora Studies, UT Austin

Bernth Lindfors, Professor Emeritus of English, UT Austin

Brian Doherty, Senior Lecturer, English, UT Austin

Cary Cordova, Assistant Professor, Department of American Studies, UT Austin

Cole Wehrle, Graduate Student, English, UT Austin

Cynthia Talbot, Associate Professor, History & Asian Studies, UT Austin

Dana Cloud, Professor, Communication Studies, UT Austin

Deb Palmer, Associate Professor, Bilingual/Bicultural Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, UT Austin

Don Howard, Associate Professor, Radio/Television/Film, UT Austin

Elisa Underwood, Graduate Student, American Studies, UT Austin

Ellen Spiro, Professor, Radio Television Film, UT Austin

Emily Lederman, Graduate Student and AI, English, UT Austin

Eric Covey, Assistant Instructor, American Studies, UT Austin

Eric Schenk, Former Academic English Program Instructor, retired, ESL Services, International Office, UT Austin

Eric Tang, Assistant Professor, Department of African and African Diaspora Studies, UT Austin

Gretchen Murphy, Professor, English, UT Austin

Heather Hindman, Associate Professor, Department of Asian Studies, UT Austin

Heather Houser, Asst. Professor, English, UT Austin

Helene Quanquin, visiting professor, Sorbonne-Nouvelle (Paris III)

Ian Woolford, PhD, Alumnus, UT Austin

Jaime Puente, Doctoral Student, American Studies, UT Austin

Jason Brownlee, Assoc. Professor, Department of Government, UT Austin

Jauzey Imam, undergraduate, class of 2015, UT Austin

Jennifer Kelly, PhD Candidate, Department of American Studies, UT Austin

Jennifer Wilks, Associate Professor, English, UT Austin

John Schaefer, UT alumnus

Josephine Lawson, UT Student, class of 2017

Jossianna Arroyo-Martínez, Professor, Spanish and Portuguese, African and African American Studies, UT Austin

Julie Kantor, Graduate Student in American Studies, AI in Rhetoric, UT Austin

Julie Minich, Asst. Professor, English, UT Austin

Juliet Hooker, Associate Professor of Government and African and African Diaspora Studies, UT Austin

Kamala Visweswaran, Associate Professor, Anthropology, UT Austin

Karen Gustafson, Research Associate, Radio Television Film, UT Austin

Katya Kolesova, graduate student, Communication Studies, UT Austin

Kristen Brustad, Associate professor, MES, UT Austin

Laura Davila, alumna, UT Austin

Laura Lyons, UT Alumna

Luis E. Cárcamo-Huechante, Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, UT Austin

Luis Marentes, Associate Prof. Of Spanish (dept. Languages, Literatures & Cultures) U of Massachusetts Amherst, UT alumnus

Mahmoud Al-Batal, Professor, Middle Eastern Studies, UT Austin

Mariana Mora, UT Alumna

Mia Carter, Associate Professor, Department of English, UT Austin

Michelle Monk, Department Administrator, Radio-Television-Film, UT Austin

Mona Mehdy, Assoc. Professor, Molecular Biosciences, UT Austin

Monica Muñoz Martinez, Carlos E. Castañeda Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Mexican American Studies, UT Austin

Neville Hoad, Associate Professor, English, UT Austin

Noah De Lissovoy, Asst. Professor, Curriculum and Instruction, UT Austin

Pablo Gonzalez, alumnus, UT Austin

Purnima Bose, UT Alumna

R. Scott Garbacz, PhD Candidate, English, UT Austin

Rachel Jennings, PhD, English, UT Austin

Ramey Ko, Lecturer, Center for Asian American Studies, UT Austin

Rasha Diab, Asst. Professor, Rhetoric and Writing, UT Austin

Regina Mills, Graduate Student, English, UT Austin

Rhiannon Goad, Graduate Student and Assistant Instructor, Department of English, UT Austin

Robert Jensen, Professor, Communications, UT Austin

Robert Oppenheim, Associate Professor, Asian Studies, UT Austin

Robert Oxford, graduate student, American Studies, UT Austin

Rocio Villalobos, Coordinator, Multicultural Engagement Center, UT Austin

S. Shankar, UT Alumnus, Professor, Department of English, University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Saif Kazim, UT Alumnus, class of 2013

Sarah Frank, graduate student, English, UT Austin

Sarah Tuttle, Research Associate, McDonald Observatory

Shannon Speed, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Director, Native American and Indigenous Studies, UT Austin

Sheela Jane Menon, graduate student, English, UT Austin

Shiyam Galyon, alumnus, UT Austin

Snehal Shingavi, Asst. Professor, English, UT Austin

Sona A. Shah, Assistant Director, Center for Asian American Studies, UT Austin

Syed Akbar Hyder, Assoc. Professor, Asian Studies, UT Austin

Tarek El-Ariss, Assoc. Professor, Department of Middle Eastern Studies, UT Austin

Taryn Stoneking, undergraduate, UT Austin, class of 2015

Teri Adams, UT Alumna

Victoria Vlach, Administrative Associate, Dept. of Asian Studies, UT Austin

 

 

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