April 13, 2009
By The EEOC – Equal Employment Opportunity Campaign
“We had little or no expectations of her; she is after all a woman of color.”
A tenured professor in Ithaca College’s Sociology Department included the above statement in an email he wrote to the Sociology Tenure and Promotion Committee at Ithaca College in 2005. The woman to whom he was referring to is Margo Ramlal-Nankoe, an assistant professor seeking tenure in Ithaca College’s Sociology Department.
This email is about Margo’s struggle for tenure at Ithaca College. Margo’s tenure process became a struggle when a small number of influential faculty and administrators began campaigning against her. Margo became a target of their negative campaign because she (a) spoke out against sexual harassment within her department and (b) challenged students and community members to think critically about US and Israeli policy in the Middle East. The campaign against Margo is about to succeed: Ithaca College’s Board of Trustees has denied Margo tenure and she is scheduled to be fired on May 12th.
If Margo is fired, both Ithaca and Ithaca College will lose a fabulous teacher and citizen. Despite the campaign being waged against her, Margo’s tenure review file is full of glowing letters from her students and colleagues. The Chair of the Sociology Tenure and Promotion Committee summarized the content of the numerous letters of support Margo received from her students: “Most students tell us that working with Dr. Ramlal-Nankoe has transformed their views, their life, and/or their plans for the future…” The letters of support Margo received from her peers also note her excellence. A typical faculty letter states that Margo provides a, “superior example of pedagogy and of the teaching of traditional sociology.”
With glowing reviews from students and peers, we need to ask: “Why is Margo being fired?” On April 16th, at 7:00pm in Autumn Leaves Book Store (on the Commons; Ithaca, New York), Margo and her lawyer will answer this question, documenting the fact that she was fired because of her complaints about harassment and discrimination, and her professional and personal involvement with politically controversial issues. Come to this meeting so that you can determine for yourself whether or not Margo deserves support from the community (Margo is asking for Ithaca College to hold a public tenure review for her). But this is not just about Margo. If we stand by, without question or concern, and allow institutions like Ithaca College to ignore sexual harassment and stifle free speech, the quality and diversity of our workforce and political dialogue will suffer.
If you have questions or are concerned about this injustice, please attend “Ithaca College Injustice: A Tenure Travesty” on April 16th at 7:00pm in Autumn Leaves Bookstore. Also, if you’d like to help advertise for this event or need directions or transportation to the event, please contact us at 312-286-9620 or email EEOCampaign AT gmail DOT com.