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An Open Letter to the University of Colorado-Boulder Administration, From the Department of Ethnic Studies

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An open letter from the University of Colorado-Boulder Ethnic Studies Department to their administration, with appended examples of the hate mail they have received.

to the Board of Regents, President Betsy Hoffman

and Interim Chancellor Phil DiStefano

The University of Colorado's official policy on diversity states:

Diversity among students, faculty, and staff is fundamental to the University of Colorado as it fulfills its mission to provide a quality education to the citizens of the state. A vision of the University of Colorado as an institution that promotes a free flow of ideas and perspectives, values diverse viewpoints and interactions, and encourages constructive engagement across racial, gender, sexual orientation and other lines of difference is central to this mission. Diversity at the University of Colorado includes populations historically underrepresented and disadvantaged by virtue of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, disability, nationality, and religion. To fulfill its mission, CU must develop purposeful recruitment and retention strategies for a diverse academic community.            

We in the Department of Ethnic Studies (DES) feel a particular responsibility to fulfill this mission.  The purpose of Ethnic Studies as a discipline is to introduce the diverse perspectives of historically underrepresented communities into the curriculum, and we offer interdisciplinary courses in African American, American Indian, Asian American, Chicano, Comparative Ethnic, and American Studies.  By definition, we must counter the standard "canon" of the humanities and social sciences, and academic freedom is essential to this endeavor. 

The Laws of the Regents (Article5, Part D) recognize that we have not only the right but the responsibility to engage in such critical analysis:

. . . "academic freedom" is defined as the freedom to inquire, discover, publish and teach truth as the faculty member sees it . . .

. . .academic freedom requires that members of the faculty must have complete freedom to study, to learn, to do research, and to communicate the results of these pursuits to others. . . .

[Faculty members] . . . should not be subjected to direct or indirect pressures or interference from within the university, and the university will resist to the utmost such pressures or interference when exerted from without (emphasis added).

 For more than thirty years the University has expressed concern about its lack of racial and ethnic diversity.   Large sums of money have been spent on cosmetic efforts and committees have repeatedly been appointed to study the problem but the recommendations of those committees have consistently been disregarded.  After all these years, only about 15% of the faculty and the student body are persons of color; and only 1% of the full professors in Arts & Sciences at CU-Boulder are women of color. 

Ethnic Studies is the only department on campus with a truly racially and ethnically diverse faculty.  We offer the only institutionalized alternative to an overwhelmingly eurocentric curriculum, and have provided a safe haven for many students in what they perceive to be an otherwise hostile environment.  The Department's predecessor unit, the Center for Studies of Ethnicity and Race in America (CSERA) was formed in the late-1980s and soon attracted a stellar faculty of national repute, including Manning Marable, Vine Deloria, Jr., Evelyn Hu DeHart, and Ward Churchill.  Of these only Ward Churchill remains, and the institution is making every effort to drive him out. 

The Department itself came into being in 1995, with an initial core of younger but highly promising faculty members, including Joy James, Jualynne Dodson, Lane Hirabayashi, David Pellow and Lisa Park.  All left, largely as a result of the lack of institutional support and resources provided the Department.  Having rebuilt the Department for the third time, we are again under siege.

Since late January, the Ethnic Studies Department and individuals within it have been publicly and personally denigrated.  At the height of the media frenzy, the Department received about 1000 e-mails and dozens of phone calls each day, many explicitly racist and/or threatening.  We have a wonderful, incredibly dedicated staff.   Already overloaded, these individuals, including our student assistant, have had to cope with this onslaught. 

Despite repeated requests, the University has offered no public defense of the Department, given no support to our already overworked staff, and provided no additional security in the face of threats to students, staff and faculty.  To give just one small example, campus police were recently sent to pressure DES staff about taking down a painting created by youth in an anti-gang program in which "stop the lynchings" is superimposed on an American flag.  Shortly thereafter, the campus police simply stood by and watched while a local resident prominently displayed a picket sign which falsely accused Ward Churchill of advocating that people "Rape B*tches" and "Lynch N*ggers."

Our students have been subjected to racist communications and threats, as have our faculty.  After some incidents targeting students received widespread media coverage, the Regents and the Administration claimed "outrage" yet an actively hostile environment which encourages such attacks has been fostered by the institution's own conduct. 

The University is well aware that Ward Churchill and other members of the Department have been subjected to death threats, threats of violence and overtly racist attacks.  It could have publicly condemned these threats of violence and expressions of racial hostility. Instead, its stunning silence has effectively empowered the attackers to continue.

Such overt racism is closely linked to attacks on academic freedom.  Ward Churchill is the most prolific and cited scholar in his field, an enormously popular teacher, and the recipient of numerous CU teaching and service awards.  Faced with politically motivated assaults on Prof. Churchill's speech, there are many steps that University officials could have taken to diffuse the situation.  The institution could have highlighted its particular responsibility to defend free speech and to promote diversity of opinion, or noted Prof. Churchill's scholarly achievements and his 25 years of exemplary service to the institution. 

Instead, University officials violated the Regents' own laws on academic freedom, denounced Prof. Churchill's constitutionally protected speech, disparaged his reputation, denied him any sort of due process, and announced that his racial identity is to be determined by committee. 

As you well know, such attacks have not been limited to Ward Churchill.  After working with our Department for more than a decade, Adrienne Anderson's contract was terminated and her courses, which were cross-listed in Ethnic Studies, eliminated as a result of political pressure, without DES ever being consulted.  A senior faculty member's sabbatical was also denied.  The obvious lack of institutional support for the Department has seriously hampered our ability to recruit new faculty, and is raising questions about our ability to retain the faculty we have.

Last week a sign was pasted on the door to our building, "warning" the public that the views expressed therein did in any way represent those of the University.  Is this true?  Are we simply being tolerated until we can be eliminated?  We have attached a small sampling of e-mails and letters which we believe illustrate that a strong Ethnic Studies program is needed now more than ever.

As the Regents and the top administrators of this University, you have tremendous influence over the future of this institution.  If you want Ethnic Studies to disappear, intend to chill the speech of all professors, and wish to actively discourage the recruitment of students and faculty of color, you need only continue on your current path.  We hope this is not the case and offer to work with you to proactively change - not "study" - the climate on campus.      

                                                                                    Department of Ethnic Studies*

                                                                                    University of Colorado at Boulder

                                                                                    April 25, 2005

* This letter was approved by consensus at a faculty meeting from which two members were absent.


WHY WE NEED ETHNIC STUDIES

While we have received expressions of support from tens of thousand of people around the country, we also think it important to note the racism and intolerance that lies so close below the surface.  Following are excerpts from e-mails and letters received by the Department of Ethnic Studies, Ward Churchill and other faculty and staff between January 31 and April 15, 2005.  

They are not the most hateful, threatening or obscene that we have received, but particularly reflect the racism, sexism, and lack of historical understanding that we work to counter.  Other than the asterisks inserted in bold, the spelling and grammar are from the original correspondence.

 
[To the Department of Ethnic Studies:]

Greetings:

Regarding Ward Churchill's remarks about 9-11 victims being "little Eichmanns," it seems to me that the debate over free speech rights misses the point. . . .

So let us suppose that the victims were little Eichmanns, fully deserving of their fates.  In the spirit of diversity and inclusion, I would then like to add the following:

(1) Blacks in the UC Boulder Ethnic Studies department are little pickanninnies.

(2) Females in the UC Boulder Ethnic Studies department are little pom-pom girls.

(3) Hispanics in the UC Boulder Ethnic Studies department are little banditos.

(4) Asians in the UC Boulder Ethnic Studies department are little yellow perils. . . . .

Mind you, I wouldn't ordinarily write this, except that "diversity and inclusion" is such a compelling interest, and I feel that it is necessary to achieve "critical mass."

With all due respect,

Robert Allgeyer

***************************

From: David Bland <gydwb1@comcast.net>

To:           Chancellor Phil DiStefano

CC:           Ward Churchill

I am writing this letter . . . to voice my distaste and gross disappointment in your dubious judgment in hiring and retaining such a repugnant and repulsive human being as Ward Churchill. . . .  I suppose for a pathetic American Indian like himself, he sees this as some sort of payback to the United States for what he sees as injustices to the American Indian 150 years ago. . . . I implore you not to be intimidated by this pathetic excuse for a man and a human being.  Fire his sorry *ass! . . . It's too bad that he is one Indian that got away!

***************************

From:       Chuck McGrory <chuck@mcgrory-glass.com>

To:           Natsu Saito

CC:           Ward Churchill

Subject:    How squaw bitch . . .

tell um Chief Ward Wigwam:  Look like pale face who want um to be um red face is um disgraced. Why don't you BOTH come on a tour of the east coast when u do your little stop in NY. We'd love to see both of you crazy mutherf*ckers! We're looking forward to seeing you w/ no reservations. We'll go out and have some fire water. On an unrelated note, Is it possible for "indian givers" to give "indian burns" ?

***************************

From:       Dennis McDonald <DennisHMcDonald@worldnet.att.net>

To:           Emma Perez

After viewing your comments last night, it appears that American Indian "wannabe" Churchill and his wife are not the only *ssholes in the Ethnic Studies Dept.

You are a disgrace to the teaching community and are probably just like Churchill - a person who never held a real job and spent years as a radical in college and eventually got some half *ss degree from some crumby little school. . . . 

. . . . let me give you a few phrases that may help in your next job; "Would you like fries with that?", "Sir, can I supersize that order?"

***************************

From:       HuMikhu@aol.com

To:           tomdreyer@shaw.ca

CC:           Ward Churchill

[tomdreyer@shaw.ca writes:]

I wonder what practical use there would be for a graduating student with a degree in Ethnic Studies, oops Victimology

[response:]

It comes in handy when calculating reparations - or settlements in the countless lawsuits that seem to plague their lives.

***************************

From:       Nathan Utt <nathanutt@yahoo.com>

To:           Ethnic Studies

The proper response to . . . "Chief" Ward Churchill is to shut down the ethnic studies department entirely. . . . it has no legitimate function, but instead is merely a forum for disaffected pseudo-intellectuals who use the mask of ethnicity to disquise their own personal dysfunctionability. . . . How about getting real jobs instead of leeching off the taxpayers with your pc thuggery?

***************************

From:       Rob Ebright <rebright@sportsimports.com>

To:           Ethnic Studies

Subject: Ward Churchill is a d*ckhead

I must laugh at your so called college department.  Tell Ward, my ancestors killed a lot of Indians and I'm proud of it . . . .

***************************

Fax received in Ethnic Studies Office from Westboro Baptist Church (www.godhatesfags.com):

WBC to picket Univ. Of Colorado Prof. Ward Churchill at the fag-infested Kirkland Project of Hamilton College . . . .  God Hates Fags! & Fag-Enablers!  Ergo, God hates Hamilton College, the sodomite whorehouse masquerading as The Kirkland Project. . . and Arminian heretic Ward Churchill . . . .

***************************

From:   david owens <res08hao1@mac.com>

To:           Ethnic Studies

what a collection of f*cking faggots and victocrats.  No wonder "ethnic" studies is a universal joke. . . .

***************************

From:       Chance Chamberlain <coloradochance@comcast.net>

To:           Ethnic Studies

Subject: Enjoying the exposure?

. . . . This has got to be one of the most useless departments in the CU system. . . . "Ethnic Studies" perhaps should be renamed "The Department for Militant Liberalism, Hate Speech against all Whites, Doctored Resumes and Anti-Americanism"

Good idea?

***************************

From:       Dave <david@mattheisen.com>

To:           Ethnic Studies

Dear Ward. . . .

Why don't you take a silly-*ss muslim name like Mohammed Mohammed Mohammed and wear a diaper on your head. . .

***************************

From: TwinDadRay@aol.com

To:           Ward Churchill

I'll keep this brief, one - too bad you weren't in the cockpit of one of those jets.  And two, with a comment like that, I'm glad the Indians were wiped out.

That is all.

***************************

From:       Davsch@aol.com

To:           Ward Churchill

You're finished Cigar Store. . . . ..

I'll be marching in the coming Columbus Day Parade as an honourary Italian for a day. 

***************************

From:       Don McCurdy <mccurdydm2@earthlink.net>

To:           Ward.Churchill

. . . .  Your people are a lazy bunch of scum!

The Native American, without intigrating himself into the modern world, has become a burden on society. . . .

I can prove to you that the Native American is nothing more than a blip on the radar screen on the over all realm of the world. . . . they are just a mole on the body of the planet. 

I am a 52 year old son of the people that have made this miserable patch of ground called America, the greatest force of good in the world!  Your sorry ancestors could not have created in their wildest dreams a force that which has such wide spreading ideals.

We The People Have given Freedom to all of Europe and Japan, and we are . . . trying to bring fredon to the middle East.

THESE ARE THE HISTORIC FACTS.

. . . . as a native of Colorado I will force you to become a piece of trash in the dust bin of history with the rest of your "ancestors."

***************************

From:         Ralph Lancaster <tulipsangel@earthlink.net>

To:             Ward Churchill

You, sir, are about as much American Indian as my dog. . . .

***************************

From: Gerald McCawley <GmcCawley@gentexcorp.com>

To:           Ward Churchill

. . . . It is a sad day in American education when a "man" with your views can head anything more than a janitorial crew.  Of course that is why so many of our kids come out of college with useless degrees in Native Studies, Diversity, or the like instead of useful, productive ones in science or mathematics.  They are hard to earn while all you had to do is make a career of whining and complaining and contributing nothing to society. . . .

***************************

From:       Katy Roberts <chas614@yahoo.com>

To:           Ward Churchill

I am working on article about you and want to verify that your Indian name is "Colostomy Bag That Walks."

***************************

From:       Irv Yaffa< hobdeer1@webtv.net>

To:           Ward Churchill

. . . .put a feather on your head and leave this wonderful country that I fought for. . . .

***************************

From:       goldmineman@hotmail.com

To:           Ward Churchill

Hey Chief - the "7th Cavalry" is coming after your worthless *ss. . . .

***************************

From:       Greg Fountain <gregfountain@sbcglobal.net>

To:           Ward Churchill

. . . . Move away from the United States.  It's people like you that always seem to forget what it cost our forefathers to give you a place to be free to be such an *ss. . . .

***************************

From: sassy <sassy1965@cox.net>

To:           Ward. Churchill@Colorado.EDU

. . . . What I would like to know is why you liberal commi scumbags in this country hate it here so much . . . WHY THE F*CK ARE YOU HERE. . . .

WE ARE SICK OF YOU LIBERALS RUINING THIS COUNTRY.  We have our problems, mostly due to liberal mental disease, but there is no where else I'd rather live. . . . YOU'RE A SICK MF AND HOPE YOU FRIGIN GET ANAL CANCER FROM YOUR HOMO STUDENTS.

***************************

From:       Tay Weinstein <tayweinstein@yahoo.com>

To:           Ward Churchill

. . . . I feel like I am owed a personal explanation by whoever wrote this bullsh*t, i.e. fake injun, aka Ward Churchill. . . .  I wouldn't expect a f*cking squaw pussy like you to understand . . .  Move to Canada, they'd love you there, and for all you know, thats where your ancestors are from.  F*ck you, goto hell.

***************************

From:       stelbt28 <stelbt28@mail.buffalostate.edu>

To:           Ward Churchill

Subject: Info regarding class...

Hey buckwheat. . . . I despise you and your redskin tactics. . . . go find your reservation and sit on welfare, you worthless scoundrel.

***************************

From: JOHNBEA882@cs.com

To:           Ward Churchill

. . . . according to the Bell Curve you are a prime candidate for having a low IQ and I do not doubt that one bit, kid.  I can't believe you get paid to do anything.  You should be on a reserve harvesting corn and huffing fire water!

***************************

From: Scott.Langer@colorado.edu

To:           Ward Churchill

Dear Squanto/Crazy Horse

. . . . IF AMERICA IS SO EVIL WHY DON'T YOU GET THE F*CK OUT OF HERE? . . . . YOU CANNOT SAY WHATEVER YOU WANT THEN JUST SAY FREEEE SPEECH ITS FREEEEEE NOTHINGGGGG HAS CONSEQUENCESSS IM NATIVE AMERICAN LOOK AT ME I'M NOT GOING TO LET ITALIAN AMERICANS EXPRESS THEIR FREEDOM ON COLUMBUS DAY!  I SUGGEST YOU LEAVE THIS CAMPUS, LEAVE THIS COUNTRY AND GO PREACH YOUR BULLSH*T IN SAUDI ARABIA OR WHERE ELSE THERE ARE "SAND N*GGERS" BECAUSE YOU WILL BE PUT TO DEATH. . .AND MANY PEOPLE WOULD BE HAPPY.

***************************

From:       Harold Liles <hrliles@nc.rr.com>

To:           Ward Churchill

I don't giva e F^$#, ME AND YOU, MY MAN, LETS GET IT ON.  THERE WILL BE NO HATCHETT BURYING, F$*# THE SPELLING, CHEROKEE WANT A BE, YOU CAN COUNT ON SEEING ME, IN YOUR DREAMS, IN THE SMOKE, IN YOUR SPEACHES YOU WILL HOPE, THE SNATCHER DOES NOT STOKE THE FLAMES OF A RED MANS FEARS .  (LOOK IT UP B*TCH)  WHITE MAN COMETH

. . . . IT WILL BE JUST LIKE OLD TIMES WATCHING YOU SKUIRM LIKE THE LITTLE BROWN f*6$@ FROM PANAMA. . . .

. . . . ISNT IT GREAT HOW YOU BRING OUT THE K IN US.

 L ER RED MAN

ME AND U M/F.  JUNGLE KNOTS COMMING YOUR WAY, SWEETIE PIE.

40 CAL, 9 MIL, AK47, 50CAL, H TO H, HOW U WANT IT, IT WILL BE SHOVED UP YOUR RED *SS THE WORLD TO SEE. 

***************************

From:  American <patrioticcitizen@comcast.net>

To:           Ward Churchill

Subject: I am a concerned Native American

. . . My parents are of European descent, but having been born here, they are Natives.  I was born here, and I am therefore also a Native American.  However, I suffer along with hundreds of millions of other American who are discriminated against because of simple chronology. . . . [I]t vexes me every time I hear the term Native American used to describe a tiny fraction of the American population. . . .

[From the same source:]

You are nothing but an Asian-American. . . . [Y]ou never mention the fact that before the Europeans ever went "abroad," pseudo-indigenous peoples around the world behaved no differently than Europeans. . . .  There is as much barbaric behavior among the Indians and other "natives" around the world to equal any heinous acts, real and alleged, perpetrated by Europeans.

[And again:]

I do not doubt your Indian heritage.  I can see it in your face and ears. . . .  Just because Indians were on the losing side, it does not absolve them of their own sins. . . .

***************************

From:       Dennis Tedder <datedder@sify.com>

To:           Ward Churchill

Subject: Commie-pinko bed-wetting left-wing long-haired faggot

. . . . I say f*ck the press.  Given my way, you'd be throw into a dark cell for ten years, then execute you after that, you homo. . . . .

PS: You may be interested in knowing that my god son has killed over 30 ragheads, destroyed 15 tanks and 10 Toyota pickup trucks from his F-18.

[From the same source:]

. . . . I've had enough of buck-teeth, genetically inbred, backwood cretins from de souf.

You may also be interested in knowing that in '83 I was personably responsible for the death of over 80 Syrians. . . .  Like Hitler, were I in charge it is the pseudo-intellectuals like you who I'd put in a camp first.

Muslims and Arabs.  Where is A. Hitler now that we need him?  Even gas wouldn't handle this many vermin.  

***************************

From: Michael Groves <michaelgroves@sbcglobal.net>

To:           Ward Churchill

. . . . I had a brother who . . . was a professor, and he once said there are very ignorent people teaching in the campuses around the country.  People who shouldn't be allowed near a person so there garbage garbage dosn't rub off on people.  Your one of the people he was talking about.  I'm not a man of violence, but I can see things that might happen. . . .. Opinons are like *ss holes, everyone has one, some just stink more then others, then I think some will wipe yours clean.  You Creep.  I'd like to see someone punch you right in the big fat loaud moth.  You ignorent white man.  Your not Native American, you're a wanna be.

***************************

From: John F Marrinan <jfmen5@optonline.net>

To:           Ward Churchill

. . . . I only have a BA, MBA, JD . . . I make $650,000 a year. . . . 

Maybe you should go back to school and obtain a PhD in world history and you might understand that we fried the Japs because they bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. . . .

I served two tours in Viet Nam . . . and I just love the good old USA. . . . .

***************************

From: Arnold Giannetta <arnoldg@optonline.net>

To: Ward Churchill

ward, you such big buffalo d*ck, you c*cksuker ingine motherf*cker

***************************

From:       NavyHomer@aol.com

To:           Thom1s@aol.com, . . . .

CC:           . . . . Ward.Churchill

[Thom1s writes:]

Personally I'd like to see a resurrection of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee and a new set of alien and sedition laws aimed at the domestic pro-terrorist enemies in our midst. . . .

[Response:]

Hallelujah!!  I agree with you 100%! . . . . I'm sending your above recommendation for the "resurrection" of an oversight committee to thwart further expansion of the mind destroying "Churchill-Kent-isms" to my two Senators. . . . . NEGOCRATS, Robert C. BYRD and John ROCKEFELLER!!!!!

. . . . I encourage you and Salena to persevere and continue your fight for the right as I and others undertake a serious effort to get rid of the nasty/smelly dropppings left on the floor of the Senate by a pathetic, strutting, cocky, BYRD!

We are working to rid the national scene of our state's embarrassment on Capitol hill, the decrepit BYRD in 2006 and the carpet bagging ROCKEFELLER in 2008!           

Copyright © CU-Boulder Ethnic Studies Department. All rights reserved.

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