Monday, May 6, 2013

Dear Chancellor Ward

The following letter from Chad Alan Goldberg, Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was delivered at today's Faculty Senate.

Chancellor Ward declined to respond, other than to say "Thank you for the letter. Yes, I agree."

In regard to the nonacademic misconduct charges facing ten students who participated in a non-violent sit-in in the your office on April 29 to protest the university's refusal to terminate its contract with Palermo Pizza—

Wouldn’t you agree that political protest differs from ordinary cases of misconduct because protest plays a positive and constructive role in educating the campus community and drawing attention to campus problems that need resolution?

Furthermore, in light of the positive and constructive role that political protest plays on campus, wouldn’t you agree that the administration should avoid even the appearance of misusing the student code of conduct to punish and suppress political criticism, dissent, and protest?

Given that a range of penalties is possible in cases of misconduct, don’t you agree that the draconian punishments with which the students have been threatened, including suspension and expulsion, are disproportionate to the offense?

Wouldn’t you agree that faculty members, including colleagues like Lydia Zepeda who are involved in shared governance bodies like the Labor Codes Licensing Compliance Committee, should be able to speak out about troubling matters on campus and to criticize administration policy without being personally attacked in the press when they do so?

Lastly, don’t you agree that a wise administrator would avoid heavy-handed and unfair responses to student protest and faculty criticism that will only escalate the situation and deepen acrimony and bitterness on campus?


I stand with these students, and with Chad and many other faculty who support them. Let Chancellor Ward know it's time to do the right thing (). And please support our students and communicate your concerns directly to Dean of Students Lori Berquam ( and Assistant Dean Bryan Bain (