'9/29/06

Dear Beata,

In your response to the Student Life article (9/27/06) about the termination of my Lecturer's contract, you state that there never was such an agreement as I describe in the article (please see: Students Protest Removal of Lecturer's Job; please see also Lecture Positions Valuable to Students)

As God is my witness, in autumn of 2004, when I visited your office and requested an upgrade to Senior Lecturer, you said "we have never done one of these before" but that you would make the application, even forgoing some of the usual "evaluation" procedures, because in my case it was "so obvious" that I was doing a fine job. You said "there is no way we would ever say we can't use you" (an interesting choice of words). You cautioned me that promotion to Senior Lecturer would involve only a modest pay increase and a two-year contract. I said I did not care. You admitted that I had "a right to be angry" about some of what was going down; I do and I am. Apparently your promise is not worth the paper it is NOT written on, any more than the University's promise not to retaliate against faculty participants in the Spring 2005 SWA sit-in is worth the paper it is NOT written on.

As God and Ahmet Karamustafa are my witnesses, at the meeting in Spring of 2006, in which I was told to "get another job," Ahmet acknowledged that "I have always been open with the Program about my plans and intentions." Indeed I have, sending an annual or bi-annual report, and a five year plan, to my colleagues. We should all do this, but I am the only one who is so open about my plans (at the risk of making myself politically vulnerable). In these communications I made it quite clear that I was embarking on the "Teaching Track," such as it is. I requested not to be "upgraded" to the "tenure track," because I regard this as a downgrade, which would compromise my teaching. I save all my emails, so I can prove what I say.

Beata, you attempted to reassure me that the Dean "did not say I was a bad person," as if my character is an issue. You also informed me that you were only following orders from the Dean, who demanded, in the name of George W. Bush and the War on Terror, the elimination of my Lecturer's position. You told me that the Dean (which one you didn't specify) refused to let the Program keep both my Lecturer's position and an Assistant Professorship in South Asian Religion. You were quite clear on one point: you had requested both positions, and were refused, You impled that you had made this request more than once.

[10/2/06: Details added at the suggestion of a student well-wisher: At the meeting in April 2006, you and Ahmet encouraged me to stay here; leaving St Louis did not come up. You told me that "I would no longer be a one-man Religious Studies Department," and my employment by University College and Summer School would not be affected. You suggested that I might do even more of this, and encouraged me to work at other local schools, in walking distance or accessible by public transportation, to put together an adequate income. You expressed concern about how I would get health insurance. You did not represent this "upgrade" as a good thing for me; it was quite clear that you were "handing me my hat." Beata, you expressed admiration for my resourcefulness, and encouraged me to "be creative." You said you knew that I would "cook up something." So it seems i am expected to stay here, working loyally for you, with even less pay and no benefits. Or perhaps you knew that I would loyally go to bat for Religious Studies; why then are you not backing me up?}

You also suggested that I might apply for an Assistant Dean position, giving up teaching for administration, as if the WashU Coop or WashU really need another Assistant Dean, and as if my vocation is not teaching but some other job.

So perhaps you understand why I must take strong, public exception to your disingenous statement that we had no agreement. Please, call off the job search to replace me. Don't blindly follow orders, when these orders are wrong. Continuing this job search is the moral equivalent of crossing a picket line. Please, remember that I did not vote for you; I have no vote, nor was I even consulted about your appointment as Chair. Please do not preside over a hostile takeover of Religious Studies by History, Anthropology, or anyone else. Please defend us against our opponents (right and left), some of whom no longer bother to conceal their disdain for us (I could be quite specific about this). This is your job. If you do your job, you may well get my vote of confidence. I have always considered you one of my friends and supporters. Please don't disillusion me.

Please remember who faithfully built your Program for you, all these years. If my position was originally intended to be a temporary, "pre-tenture track" appointment, it is too late for that now. It really is.

In an email in Autumn 2004, you took exception to my assertion that Lecturers are second class faculty here. When I read this I thought that you are out of touch with reality or on the wrong side of the issue. That is, unless we see through our students' eyes. To them, we Lecturers are First Class Faculty, and many of you are Second Class. Why should First Class professors be subordinate to the Second Class?

Please support workplace democracy and cooperative, non-hierarchical education and administration. Please stop trying to rule ex cathedra. Please, tell the truth and fight the lie, and show some moral courage. Set an example for our youth, and our community. You owe us this much.

Sincerely,

Jerome Bauer
Still a proud, loyal member of the Teaching Faculty of Washington University in St Louis, and a proud co-founder of the WashU Cooperative Network and Cervantes Free University

 

PS. Let's bring back the "Ethics and Values" requirement. Washington University needs it.