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UCLA Distinguished Professor, Dr. Edward L. Keenan says that UCLA faculty members have no status in the university power structure and, therefore, no one at UCLA is obliged to pay any attention to what UCLA faculty members say.  He also says a UCLA faculty member might be able to push for readmission without the department having to acknowledge any wrongdoing

Letter 2 to UCLA Distinguished Professor, Dr. Edward L. Keenan:

Dear Dr. Edward Keenan,

     I greatly appreciate the time and the considerable thought you put into your letter dated October 9.  I, too, understand that adding an 'extracurricular' matter to one's already substantial workload is hardly done with ease (which also accounts for my delay in responding to your letter).  However, please allow me to address some points in your letter so that I may show that my termination merits faculty members' time and serious consideration.

     In my previous letter I pointed out that professors would likely see no departmental and/or administrative boundaries preventing them from coming forth, collectively or as individuals, with facts to show that a graduate student was violating the university's academic and ethical principles, again, for reasons too obvious to require stating.  In short, I was merely substituting one actor for another actor to make salient the serious issues involved.  And since this is a straightforward substitution, it does not easily invite "interpretation."  Accordingly, this substitution has nothing to do with "an attempt to guilt-trip" professors into acting on my behalf.  Rather, my making this simple substitution merely shows that professors readily move with the flow of power to defend the university's principles but then offer odd statements to avoid moving against that flow to defend these very same principles.  Needless to say, professors' selective use of the university's principles discredits these professors and the university as a whole.  (Whether professors feel guilty or not about this practice has no bearing at all on the validity of these principles, so questions of "guilt-tripping" are entirely beside the point.)

     Nor is it accurate for you to say that you "just have [my] interpretation" of what happened in my termination.  I gave you (and enclose here again) a page of statements offered to me by several faculty members after they had carefully examined the facts of my termination—specifically, they offered conclusions drawn from these facts.  Consequently, the matter has moved beyond questions of anyone's "interpretation" of what happened and on to the issues raised by these faculty members' conclusions.  And their conclusions show these issues involve the university's own principles.  Their conclusions also raise serious questions about how the university operates—in the names of its faculty.

     Also, I need to point out that it's incorrect for professors to see themselves as "acting on my behalf" should they choose to involve themselves in my termination.  Since the facts involve the university's principles, these professors would be acting on behalf of these same principles, and therefore, on behalf of the university itself—i.e., my reinstatement would only be a consequence of their defending these principles in a matter that is central to the university: its responsibilities to its students.

     This brings me to how you put the matter to [UCLA] Dean [Timothy] Stowell in your letter to him.  These faculty conclusions show that the matter has gone well beyond a student "who feels he was unjustly dropped from the graduate program... ."  Indeed, how I feel is quite beside the point; rather, we should be pointing out that these nontrivial faculty conclusions have been made but no one as yet appears to know how to act on them.  Nor is this a matter of my "seem[ing] like a reasonable guy"; we're concerned here with facts and the university's principles, so whether or not I seem like a reasonable guy is irrelevant.  (I might add that it appears to me that I may well be portrayed by some people there as quite unreasonable for having pursued this matter for ten years; however, the facts haven't changed, nor to my knowledge have the university's principles—for which the faculty is always responsible—so whether it's been ten years or ten minutes is inconsequential.)

     In the last paragraph of your letter to me, you state that you and a random collection of other faculty members have "no status within the university's power structure" and that "no one would be obliged to pay any attention to [you]." [Document]  However, it's fairly easy to show that university faculty members, randomly and/or collectively, at times choose to exercise quite a bit of status within the university.  In fact, we only have to look at the hue and cry that erupted from them recently when the UC's "power structure" violated its principles in dismissing Dr. Erwin Chemerinsky from UC[Irvine].  (You may have been out of the country in September, but the story even as reported is quite noteworthy.)  He was reinstated shortly thereafter, and few would now dispute that the individual voices of numerous faculty members within the UC and across the nation brought about his reinstatement.  (We might also note that if Dr. Chemerinsky—and the public—had instead been told by these faculty members that they all regarded any effort on their part to defend the university's academic principles as "hopeless" and that professors, however distinguished, not only had no status in the university but also had no voice therein, we'd all then know that we are no longer dealing with universities or their professors, at least as they have long defined themselves.)

     Of course it's easy to relinquish power (i.e., "status") simply by saying that one does not have any.  But in fact I'm not asking UCLA's professors to assert anything that they don't already have.  I'm merely looking for those professors who are willing to assert and uphold their responsibilities as these are found in the university's own Faculty Handbook, where these professors "make every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct and to assure that their evaluations of students reflect each student's true merit."  So that when facts indicate that a student has not been afforded these efforts, these professors would then come together "to participate in university governance" (as stipulated in the Faculty Handbook) out of their significant responsibilities to the university and its students.

     Finally, I was not soliciting UCLA faculty members' names when I contacted Dr. Noam Chomsky about my termination from UCLA; entirely on his own he offered your name along with a few others as professors "who are, I am sure, very much concerned about such issues and who would be willing and able to investigate and pursue them[.]"  I don't know what he was basing his surety on, but it appears from your letter to me that you're asking to be left aside from those UCLA professors who are concerned about the serious issues raised by my termination and who are actually willing and able to investigate and pursue them.  (As it presently stands, those professors choosing to selectively practice the university's principles—i.e., their faculty responsibilities—would do well to ask themselves how many terminations like mine they're willing to allow before they stand up for the university and its students, and themselves.  Or being content to let such terminations occasionally pass them by, these professors must then adamantly insist on receiving this same expulsion process from an institution then functioning as the antithesis of higher education—while they still proclaim their deep commitment to the university's principles and its exalted motto: Let There Be Light.)

     The facts of my termination are there for you to examine if you wish, and your colleagues' principled conclusions from these facts may speak to you or not.  In any case, I'll continue my search for the professors whom Dr. Chomsky tells me are there at UCLA, as this seems to me to be a valuable, and indeed necessary, contribution I can make to a university that appears to have violated its own principles—and then apparently turned a deaf ear to several of its own faculty members—in order to throw me out.


Tom Wilde

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