Dear Provost Tramontano:
Thank you for your recent letter expressing support for Prof. Laurie Rubel’s academic freedom. But I am dismayed by your limited defense and believe that the right to academic freedom extends beyond the confines that the Provost’s Office and the College seem prepared to offer.
In this regard I point to your recent statement on the matter in which you only renounce physical violence against faculty and describe a painfully strained and narrow definition of protected speech. Regarding Prof. Rubel you wrote, “We strongly defend her right to publish her work without threat of personal harm. Professor Rubel has the right to pursue scholarship within her field and publish her research in professional venues.”
No professor should be subjected to the vile comments that have been visited upon Prof. Rubel without the full-throated objection of campus administration. And that support should not be confined to the means of their scholarly speech.
As someone who regularly opines on controversial matters in the broad field of education in media well-beyond the scope of peer-reviewed publications, I find that your comments fall far short of the standards of academic freedom the College and University should be prepared to defend. On more than one occasion you have pointedly advised me about causing “trouble” for the College and I believe Prof. Rubel’s situation — far more brutal than anything I have experienced — needs to be addressed in far stronger terms than the Provost’s Office appears willing to provide.
I believe you owe more to the College and to the faculty than tepid, legalistic framing of outrageous conduct against free academic discourse.
David C. Bloomfield
Professor of Education Leadership, Law & Policy
Brooklyn College and The CUNY Graduate Center