May 23, 2010
To the Board of Governors:
I have just learned, to my astonishment, that two professors and a number of students have been suspended from Middlesex University in the wake of the protests against the closing of the philosophy program. It is difficult even to comprehend, much less sympathize with, such an action.
By what right are those who educate and are educated at a university suspended by those who do neither? Through what logic does a university administration arrogate to itself such power? Do those who have suspended the teachers and students at Middlesex see themselves as educators? If so, through what individual and collective delusion do they do so?
To claim that these protests were somehow disruptive to the university’s functioning would display a keen lack of any sense of irony. What could be more disruptive than dismantling one of the core faculties at any university, not to mention this particular faculty’s standing in the philosophical world? And if disruption cannot be appealed to as a justification, then what can? There is simply nothing that can ground this suspension, nothing aside from the inconvenience it has caused those who have already done so much damage.
Several weeks ago, I wrote expressing my sadness at the possibility of the termination of the philosophy program at Middlesex. That sadness has turned to anger. This latest action cannot stand, and I will do whatever is in my power to ensure that it does not stand. If the destruction of the philosophy program at Middlesex was a blow to higher education, this suspension is nothing more than a mockery of it.
Class of 1941 Memorial Professor of the Humanities, Clemson University