[-empyre-] UCSD Anti-Racism Coalition open letter to Paul Drake

Brett Stalbaum stalbaum at ucsd.edu
Sun Apr 18 08:19:22 EST 2010

April 16, 2010

Dear Professor Drake:

The ongoing campus investigation that your office has launched against 
Professor Ricardo Dominguez is baseless. The attempt to file criminal 
charges against Professor Dominguez is hypocritical for it is widely 
known that Professor Dominguez enjoys a national and international 
reputation for his work in digital civil disobedience. Utmost 
transparency is essential to Professor Dominguez’ artistic work and he 
has never attempted to misrepresent his work in any way.

Your own office promoted him to Associate Professor on the basis of this 
work, all of which was comprehensively and accurately laid out in the 
material he provided to the Committee on Academic Personnel a short 
while ago. Legal rulings have drawn a line between the Virtual Sit-In 
that Professor Dominguez has theorized and Distributed Denial-of-Service 
(DDOS) attacks, which are illegal. Moreover, with the approval of the 
former Dean of Arts and Humanities, the Center for Humanities has 
supported Professor Dominguez’s project on the Transborder Immigrant 
Tool, which was selected among other proposals for its creative way of 
promoting critical thinking about what constitutes a “border.” Since 
these facts are well-known to you, it seems clear that the investigation 
into Professor Dominguez’ work was triggered by his support for the 
recent students protests on campus.

We regard this investigation as an unwarranted attack on a prominent 
Latino faculty member and we hold the university responsible for failing 
to adequately address the many threats Professor Dominguez has received, 
something we regard as an extension of the University’s broader failure 
to provide a campus climate free from hostility and intimidation for 
faculty of color. We therefore demand both the immediate halt to the 
campus investigation and a full investigation into external threats made 
toward Professor Dominguez, his research team and UCSD. This reflects 
what we feel would be an appropriate adjustment of priorities. In the 
absence of such a move, we will hold UCSD administrators accountable for 
any and all threats received by Professor Dominguez and for his safety. 
We demand as well that the university announce public steps to address 
the safety concerns expressed herein and that the university state its
public commitment to both academic freedom and the active protection of 
various forms of principled dissent.

Professor Dominguez and the b.a.n.g. lab have been vilified for the way 
in which they have explored the use of the innovative Transborder 
Immigrant Tool to save the lives of undocumented workers. We are aware 
of your ongoing and shameful attempts to silence this powerful form of 
advocacy and simple humanity. The use of the university’s machinery of 
fraud investigation to suppress political dissent is both illegal and 
immoral. We know, as do you, that many of the professors who have taken 
prominent roles in opposing institutional racism at UCSD are assistant 
professors, lecturers and graduate students. Your attack on Professor 
Dominguez is widely interpreted as an attack on this vulnerable stratum 
within the faculty. In light of this university’s endemic inability to 
provide a climate for junior faculty that facilitates appropriate career 
trajectories and in consideration of our refusal to tolerate the 
combination of a racist student body, we understand the attack on 
Professor Dominguez as the beginning of an organized backlash against us 
all. For the past eight weeks, UCSD has been rocked by a scandalous 
series of racist actions perpetrated by people on and off the campus. 
The energetic investigation of Professor Dominguez must be compared with 
the University’s sanctioning of the parties responsible for the various 
racist outrages we have witnessed ( i.e. the Koala has even been 
rewarded with additional funds by the student government). As in other 
cases throughout the University of California system, such as the case 
of the “Irvine 11,” we are fully aware that the invocation of “free 
speech” has become a tool to separate those whose voices count from 
those to be silenced. We refuse silence. As the students have said, we 
prefer to exit together, as one body, rather than to be picked off as 
individuals.We demand a full and complete response from the Senior 
Leadership Team of UCSD to the issues raised in this letter by no later 
than 10AM, Monday April 19.

To the administration: We demand unequivocal support for academic 
freedom. We demand public recognition of the right of dissent. We demand 
a public commitment to the safety of Professor Dominguez. We demand a 
halt to the university investigation into the B.A.N.G. lab. We demand 
that the SVCAA hold a public meeting with faculty to explain his 
unwillingness to stand firmly on the side of academic freedom.

To the faculty: We ask you to consider seriously the implications of 
working in a university where outside interference produces criminal 
investigations, and where the mere threat of said charges provokes the 
threatened revocation of tenure. We ask you to consider seriously the 
implications of the dismissal of a prominent Latino faculty member by a 
university fast on its way to acquiring a public reputation for racism. 
We ask you to consider the likely effect on extramural funding that will 
follow the likely departure of faculty whose activism makes them targets 
for retaliation by a university that has lost the sense of the basic 
meaning of privileges and tenure.

To our allies off campus: We ask that you contact UCSD Chancellor Mary 
Anne Fox and Senior Vice-Chancellor Paul Drake to communicate your anger 
at the attack on academic freedom, the disregard for free speech 
protections, the attempt to suppress a humanitarian project that ensures 
the safety of undocumented immigrants, and the University 
administration’s continuing refusal to adequately address the issues of 
institutional racism and neoliberal governance that prompted Professor 
Dominguez’s activism in the first place.

Chancellor Fox may be reached at:
Phone: (858)534-3135
Email: chancellor at ucsd.edu

SVCCAA Drake may be reached at:
Phone: (858)534-3130
Email: svcaa at ucsd.edu

Finally, we are firmly resolved to stand firm with Professor Ricardo 
Dominguez. We look forward to hearing in short order that the 
investigation into his entirely legitimate artistic work will be 
immediately discontinued and the criminal investigation halted.

The UCSD Anti-Racism Coalition
“Another University is Possible”

Kindly direct correspondence to:
Professor Yen Espiritu
Ethnic Studies Department
UC San Diego
9500 Gillman Dr
La Jolla CA 92093

- Stephanie Burke (Assistant Vice-Chancellor, Audit & Management 
Advisory Services)
- Professor Harold Pashler, (Chair, Committee on Academic Freedom, UCSD)
- Professor Raymond L. Russell, (UC-wide Committee on Academic Freedom)
- Charles A. Gonzalez (Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Civil 
- Tony Mendoza, (California State Assemblyman, 56th District)
- Marie Watteau (National Council for La Raza)
- Vanessa Cajina, (Director, California Immigration Policy Center)%
- Professor Ricardo Dominguez (Visual Arts Department, UCSD)

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