[-empyre-] Yudof Responce to Core Members of the UC MRG in International Culture and Performance

Ricardo Dominguez rrdominguez at ucsd.edu
Fri Apr 23 23:57:20 EST 2010

Hola all,

For some reason I have been getting the empyre list emails - only Brett's
last two
emails have landed.

But, here is the response by Yudof (the only one I know of).


>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Letter from Core Members of the UC MRG in International
Culture and Performance>>>>>>>>>

Dear President Yudof, Chancellor Fox, SVC Drake, and other concerned parties:

We, the members of the UC Multi-Campus Research Group in International
Performance and Culture, write in support of Ricardo Dominguez (Associate
Professor, Visual Arts, UCSD) and his collaborators at bang.lab. We have
recently heard disturbing news about Professor Dominguez’s tenure being
placed under review in response to several of his recent research and
performance projects, and we are deeply concerned about such developments.
Professor Dominguez is an internationally renowned performance artist and
researcher whose work has been curated and anthologized in a wide range of
venues; he is known as an exemplary artist, scholar, and teacher, and we
count ourselves fortunate to have him as a colleague within the UC system.
We write to provide some disciplinary context for his work, which we hope
will encourage you to abandon any potential efforts to revoke his tenure.

We understand the projects in question to be:

(1) Professor Dominguez’s participation in the inter-institutional project
“Transborder Immigrant Tool”; and

(2) Professor Dominguez’s participation in a virtual sit-in on the UCOP
web site as part of the collective actions taken on March 4, 2010 in
response to the current crises facing public higher education in

The Transborder Immigrant Tool is an innovative project that cross-cuts
the technology and the arts. Using low-cost and recycled mobile phones
loaded with mapping software, the project aims to reduce deaths and
serious illnesses for those traveling through California’s deserts.
Although this project has been meet with some controversy in the press, we
see this work as being imminently ethical and, perhaps just as
importantly, a serious and innovative extension of precedents in
performance research that have similarly aimed to pose questions about
structural inequality, citizenship and civility, and humanitarianism—such
questions have occupied performance traditions throughout the 20th and
21st centuries. Dominguez’s work, in this regard, is both  part of a
longer disciplinary tradition in the visual arts and, importantly for the
UC, an innovative and forward-thinking extension of these queries to the
problems and conditions that define our contemporary age.

It is also important to note, despite sensationalist media reports to the
contrary, that the Transborder Immigrant Tool has not as yet been used by
anyone unaffiliated with bang.lab. It is still in development, with input
from non-profit border organizations and the Border Patrol. We understand
that UCSD has received complaints from several members of the US Congress
who have unfortunately been misinformed about the project’s scope, and who
are attempting to intervene into the practice of academic and artistic
freedom. As scholars and artists who have chosen to work in the context of
a public institution in the interest of the “greater good,” we find such
interventions from political representatives into university research
projects to be offensive, unethical, and in breach of their
responsibilities as elected leaders.

We also understand that information about Professor Dominguez’s work with
the Transborder Immigrant Tool has been included with all of his
professional reviews at UCSD, only now (after the receipt of letters from
members of Congress) to be investigated. We are deeply concerned that what
might, in other disciplines, be called the “results” of a research project
could be used retroactively to question that project’s basis. We trust
that you, too, will respect the necessary integrity of scholarly and
artistic research by refusing to bend to political pressure and by
continuing to support the vibrant, innovative, forward-thinking, and
ethical research program of Professor Dominguez and bang.lab.

The March 4 “Virtual Sit-In” on the UCOP.EDU website, similarly,
represents an innovative approach to political action and civil
disobedience. It is not, as some reports have attempted to assert, the
equivalent of a “Distributed Denial of Service” (DDOS) attack, for several

First, unlike all DDOS attacks, a virtual sit-in is transparent. This
means that all participants actively accept the terms of the sit in; the
creators of the sit-in are openly identified; and only computers used by
specific individuals are involved. (DDOS attacks, on the other hand, use
anonymous software programs and filters to disguise the creators and

Second, like “real world” (embodied) sit-ins, a virtual sit-in is part of
a broader set of cultural and political actions directed towards a
specific, non-essential site with a specific message in mind. It is also
limited in time and scope, precisely like a performance, with a set
beginning and ending. The purpose of a virtual sit-in is to participate in
a broader collective social action (in this case, March 4), transparently,
in the interest of conveying the sentiments of a collective social body.

Finally, given the primary purpose of public universities, we would hope
that the UC would welcome the critical questions raised by a virtual
sit-in—about collectivity, about accessibility, about the important role
universities play in technological and artistic innovation—in a time when
these cherished values are so severely under threat by diminishing state
support. We see the March 4 virtual sit-in as an important extension of
the many other collective actions engaged on March 4, pedagogically as
well as artistically instructive.

In short: Ricardo Dominguez is at the very vanguard of performance art
traditions, and we count ourselves extremely fortunate to count him as a
colleague. His international reputation as an innovative artist and
scholar strengthens the UC’s position as a leader in the fields of
theater/performance and the visual arts. We trust that the values of
academic and artistic freedom that define the university’s role in public
service will convince you to abandon attempts to revoke his tenure.


Patrick Anderson
Assistant Professor
Department of Communication
Affiliated Faculty, Critical Gender Studies
Affiliated Faculty, Ethnic Studies
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive #0503
La Jolla, CA 92093-0503


Dear All,

Yudof has responded (with a long list of cc's, excluding Ricardo) to
the letter of support for Ricardo from the MRG in International
Performance and Culture. The MRG letter was used as the basis for the
online petition (which currently has nearly 2500 endorsements). I'm
attaching his response below.

It seems clear that the virtual sit-in/Denial of Service distinction
is going to be key in this "investigation"; to that end, I wonder if
some of us might start working on developing a different view of the
legal, aesthetic, and scholarly precedents than the strict
constructionist interpretation of policy that the administration will
no doubt champion. We might, for example, strategically deploy
literalism to confront literalism itself: e.g. in the policy cited by
Yudof (below), how do we measure "excessive strain" and "interference"
in the context of pedagogy, activism designed to promote public
education, and artistic endeavors, all of which are presumably in line
with university goals (and thus not "interference") and of a scale in
line with other March 4 activities (and thus not "excessive"); and/or:
how might a virtual sit-in actually promote access to (and thus not
"impede availability of") "university communications services" for
students studying civil disobedience?


Core Members of the UC MRG in International Culture and Performance

Dear Core Members:

Thank you for your e-mail of April 7 sending your statement of support
of Professor Ricardo Dominguez on our San Diego campus.  I am pleased
to know that you hold Professor Dominguez in high regard.  As I hope
you will understand, I cannot comment on any pending investigation,
given rights to privacy, but I can say that the University is
committed to supporting its faculty members and their academic
freedom.  I am confident that Chancellor Fox and her staff, working
with the faculty, will address these issues without intervention from
the Office of the President.

That said, I do want to respond to your comments about protections for
a “virtual sit-in” on the UCOP Web site.  UC’s Electronic
Communications Policy (http://www.ucop.edu/ucophome/policies/ec/),
Section III (see p.8) covers allowable use of our electronic systems
and reads as follows:

D. Allowable Uses.

7. Interference. University electronic communications resources shall
not be used for purposes that could reasonably be expected to cause
excessive strain on any electronic communications resources, or to
cause interference with others’ use of electronic communications
resources. Users of electronic communications services shall not: (i)
send or forward chain letters or their equivalents in other services;
(ii) "spam," that is, exploit electronic communications systems for
purposes beyond their intended scope to amplify the widespread
distribution of unsolicited electronic messages; (iii) "letter-bomb,"
that is, send an extremely large message or send multiple electronic
messages to one or more recipients and so interfere with the
recipients' use of electronic communications systems and services; or
(iv) intentionally engage in other practices such as "denial of
service attacks" that impede the availability of electronic
communications services.

Our Chief Information Officer, David Ernst, is charged with
investigating whether the participation in a “virtual sit-in” that
degraded service to our user community violated this policy and, if
so, what the consequences should be.  Although I am sympathetic to the
need for free expression in pursuit of new artistic directions,
neither the First Amendment nor Academic Freedom, in my view, protects
substantial and material interference with ongoing educational and
related activities.

One of the great challenges we currently face is to convince a wider
California public that they should support the University of
California strongly even during times of financial stress for the
State.  I hope you agree that our tradition of viewpoint-neutral
application of policies governing professional conduct by faculty and
staff is one of the great strengths we rely on to demonstrate our
commitment to the public good.

I appreciate your taking the time to write with your concerns.

With best wishes, I am,

Sincerely yours,

Mark G. Yudof

cc:        Chancellor Marye Anne Fox
           Provost Lawrence Pitts
           Executive Vice President Nathan Brostrom
           Vice President Steven Beckwith
           Chief Information Officer David Ernst
           General Counsel Charles Robinson
           Deputy General Counsel David Birnbaum

Ricardo Dominguez
Associate Professor
Hellman Fellow

"Another University is Possible"

Help restore democracy to California today: http://www.CAMajorityRule.com

Visual Arts Department, UCSD
Principal Investigator, CALIT2
Co-Chair gallery at calit2
CRCA Researcher
Ethnic Studies Affiliate
Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies Affiliate

Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics,
Board Member

University of California, San Diego,
9500 Gilman Drive Drive,
La Jolla, CA 92093-0436
Phone: (619) 322-7571
e-mail: rrdominguez at ucsd.edu

Project sites:
site: http://bang.calit2.net
site: http://gallery.calit2.net
site: http://pitmm.net
site: http://www.thing.net/~rdom

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