Norman Finkelstein deserved credit, not dismissal

January 16, 2012

In News

Former professor’s return to DePaul an opportunity to let academic freedom ring

By Agnes Karoluk

Academic freedom is under attack, not just at DePaul University but at various academic institutions in the United States and around the world. Despite tedious rules regarding tenure, publishing, and financial support given to university departments, there is still a very clear and concise political agenda behind every aspect of the inner workings of a university.

This first became apparent to me in 2009, when I entered DePaul as a transfer student from the New School in New York City and took my first Women’s and Gender Studies class with Dr. Missy Bradshaw. From the start, I knew I would love the class and the professor who taught it. Shortly after the course began, Bradshaw informed us that she would no longer be teaching at DePaul due to a tenure battle that was lost. Immediately, we organized. Many of the Women’s and Gender Studies graduate students made flyers, spread awareness of the situation on Facebook, and organized speak-outs and protests against the administration’s decision.

I could not understand, how could a published professor with such admirable experience, such an inspiring repertoire with her students be denied tenure? It was not until then I realized that this was commonplace at DePaul.

The same university that had denied tenure to Finkelstein only two years prior. I had never met Finkelstein, but had heard many stories about him and even read some of his work. Not only is Finkelstein an internationally recognized and acclaimed scholar on Israel-Palestine, but he is also known internationally for putting DePaul on the map. I have heard from professors that whenever they present at a conference one of the first things they are told by from other universities is “Are you the ones who got rid of Finkelstein?”

On Jan. 16 in Cortelyou Commons, Finkelstein is returning to DePaul for the first time since he was wrongfully dismissed. This event is hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine at DePaul (SJP) and co-sponsored by the Middle East Politics Association (MEPA). The first topic of his lecture will be on Israel-Palestine, as he is coming out with three new books, including “Goldstone Recants: Richard Goldstone Renews Israel’s License to Kill”, and “This Time We Went Too Far: Truth & Consequences of the Gaza Invasion.” Finkelstein was invited to both Harvard and Yale this March to give the same talk.

However, at DePaul he will also make time to discuss academic freedom, and specifically, the absence of it during his tenure battle. Just as so many students rallied in support of Bradshaw, and in support of Finkelstein during their tenure battles, twice as many should attend Finkelstein’s lecture. Whether you agree with his views or not, he is an acclaimed scholar whom we will be reading for decades to come, even if we didn’t have the opportunity to learn from him in the classroom.