Robinson Letter to Yang and Michaelson, April 15, 2009

15 April 2009

Chancellor Henry Yang
Academic Senate Chair Joel Michaelson
University of California-Santa Barbara

Dear Chancellor Yang and Professors Michaelson,

I understand that the Chair of the Academic Senate Professor Joel Michaelson has decided to press ahead with the formation of an Ad Hoc Committee with regard to charges that I have violated the Faculty Code of Conduct.

I have retained an attorney to represent me in this case. I am sending a copy of this communication to him. You will hear from him.

On 9 February 2009 the Santa Barbara branch of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sent to me a letter complaining about material I had introduced into one of my courses and claiming that the material violated a number of items of the Faculty Code of Conduct. A copy of that letter was sent by the ADL to Chancellor Yang and others. On 12 February I was “urgently” summoned to meet with the AS Charges Officer regarding an informal complaint lodged by two students. The Charges Office subsequently forwarded to me letters of formal complaint from these two students with regard to the same course material about which the ADL had complained. I have forwarded to the two of you, among others, redacted copies of these letters, along with all of the relevant correspondence between myself and the AS Charges Office as well as between myself and the AS Committee on Academic Freedom.

You are therefore aware of all the details surrounding these charges. You are aware that I view these charges to be a patent, ominous, and politicized violation of academic freedom. The charges themselves are evidently farcical, as I have documented in the correspondence that has transpired. The process by which they have been handled involves egregious abuses of University procedures. I am under harassment. My teaching has been obstructed. I have been drawn away from my research, service and mentoring responsibilities.

Beyond the individual harm to me the principle and practice of academic freedom are under attack. I need not remind you that academic freedom encompasses, among others aspects, the right of faculty to full freedom in research and in the publication of results, freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, and the right of faculty to be free from institutional censorship, discipline or other forms of restrictive interference in teaching, research, speaking and publishing, wherever the search for truth and understanding may lead.

It is your legal and ethical responsibility, Chancellor Yang and Professor Michaelson, as the highest officials of the dual governance structure at the University of California at Santa Barabara, to come out in public defense of academic freedom and to immediately suspend these charges proceedings. I am calling on you to do so.

By continuing this charade the University runs the risk of drawing the attention of the public and of the media beyond the campus and of undermining in the public eye the integrity of the University of California at Santa Barbara.


William I. Robinson
Professor of Sociology

Joseph Allen, Attorney at Law
Verta Taylor, Chair, Department of Sociology
Melvin Oliver, Dean of Social Sciences
Gene Lucas, Executive Vice Chancellor
Stephanie Smagala, Academic Senate Analyst
Yousef Baker, Coordinator, UCSB Committee to Defend Academic Freedom
Richard Appelbaum, Professor, Sociology and GISP
Dick Flacks, Professor Emeritus, Sociology
Richard Falk, Professor, Global Studies
Lisa Hajjar, Professor, Law and Society
Susan Mazer, Chair, Academic Senate Committee on Committees
Members, Academic Senate Committee on Faculty Welfare and Academic Freedom
Alison Butler, Chair, AS Committee on Academic Personnel
Sarah Fenstermaker, Chair, AS Privilege and Tenure Committee
Paul E. Amar, UC Academic Freedom Representative
Aaron Ettenberg, AS Charges Advisory Committee
Hua Lee, AS Charges Advisory Committee
Marianne Mithun, AS Charges Advisory Committee
Frances Zok, AS Charges Advisory Committee
Helen Henry, Chair, University of California Committee on Academic Freedom

William I. Robinson
Professor of Sociology
Global and International Studies
Latin American and Iberian Studies
University of California-Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
phone: 805-893-5607
fax: 805-893-3324
web page:
web page for my photos:

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