Both sides said on Thursday that the University of Mississippi had reached a settlement with a former professor for an undisclosed amount. He said the university actually fired him for political reasons.
“The university is, and has always been, a political institution,” Professor Garrett Felber, the abolitionist of prisons, said in a statement. “The question is not whether our work in the university will always have political significance. It is whether our politics in it can be fair, noble and life-affirming. The answer should be yes.”
University spokesperson Rod Guajardo said: “We are very happy that this matter has been resolved and are satisfied with the solution.” He said that he hopes that Ferber will “have everything in pursuing future opportunities. smoothly”.
Felber, who was an assistant professor of history at Ole Miss for four years, officially joined Let go in 2020 Because he was unable to communicate fully with his department chair during the research leave at Harvard University. Specifically, Felber insisted that he and the chairman communicate via e-mail instead of Zoom in order to promote the written record of their exchanges; Felber had previously expressed distrust of his chairman and criticized her on Twitter for allegedly rejecting the US$42,000. To study funding for mass incarceration and immigration detention, because this is an overly politicized project.
“Your repeated refusal to talk to me prevented me from maintaining a productive working relationship with you or overseeing your faculty duties,” Chairman Noel Howell Wilson wrote to Felber in December, informing him that his contract would not Renewal, a few months after that Twitter post. “I wish you success in your future endeavours.”
Professor Tenure-track was regularly laid off before the end of the probation period. But before Felber stopped renewing his contract — and before disagreements over funding issues — Wilson told Felber that he was meeting his lifelong expectations for research and teaching and surpassing them in terms of service. Felber and his supporters immediately began to suspect that he was fired because of his activism not just because of the inability to communicate: Felber’s allies said he had a record of publicly talking about university decisions he disagreed with, and his work was very critical of the prison state. . For example, Felber also said on Twitter that the university rejected problematic grants because it “puts racist donors above everything else. So this is not some mythical duality between politics and history. It’s this anti-racism program that threatens the money of racist donors. Racism is the brand. It’s in the name.”
Some of Felber’s Ole Miss colleagues campaigned for his reinstatement, and a group of outside scholars promised not to speak on campus until he was rehired.But the university Support Wilson, The head of the department. Provost Noel Wilkin told the American Historical Association, who had inquired about Felber’s case, that Wilson “was lost when she acted in good faith with the faculty union who did not receive tenure and responded to her repeated efforts. When confident, choose to make a very difficult suggestion. Help him succeed.”
The provost also denied that the personnel actions were related to race or prison scholarships, arguing that other Ole Miss scholars had studied similar topics.
Felber accepted an American studies scholarship from the Center for Ethnic, Indigenous, and Transnational Immigration Studies at Yale University, but he still disagreed.
“I was fired because of my public statements, including legal criticism of the university,” he said in the statement. However, instead of going to court to seek reinstatement, he said, “I choose to continue working and continue my work from a position outside this university.”
One of Felber’s lawyers, Rob McDuff, was negotiating with the university on his behalf. He said that Felber’s termination violated the First Amendment because “after he made a very sharp criticism of the university, All this failed. The reasons for the university’s decision were untenable.”
On behalf of another Ole Miss professor, McDuff of the Mississippi Justice Center said he also found that the campus atmosphere requires academic freedom. Recently, JT Thomas, an associate professor of sociology, accused the university of not making comments or defending him in any way, and opposed the state’s investigation into his involvement in racial justice actions last year.
exist That situation, Mississippi State auditor and Republican Shad White announced a formal investigation into Thomas’ participation in extensive observation activities. Scholars strikeWhite also wrote to Miss Ole, encouraging the university not to pay Thomas for the two-day strike and fire him.
Thomas, who is still in Miss Ole, is now suing White for defamation of White’s comments on him and his occupational health. White has requested that the case be dismissed.
When asked about the current environment of Mississippi scholars on Thursday, Thomas said: “This is terrible. I think your typical faculty and staff want to feel that they can go to work and complete their work. They don’t have to worry about someone in the state government, they Don’t worry about appointed officials, they don’t need to worry about private donors interfering with their work.”
Thomas’ own research center is race, racism, and inequality. He said that especially professors working on controversial issues “cannot carry out this work safely at the University of Mississippi.”
University spokesperson Guajardo did not answer questions about Thomas’ case. Regarding Felber, Guajardo said that Ole Miss “supports the procedures it followed, the ruling and decision of the teacher committee that reviewed the case.”