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Linfield Cuts Off Mass Faculty Emails Amid Controversy

April 27, 2021
 
 

Linfield University canceled faculty Listservs over the weekend, sparking faculty cries of censorship. Several professors have of late used mass emails or publicly criticized the university for what they describe as Linfield’s poor handling of several sexual misconduct complaints involving members of the Board of Trustees. One faculty trustee also accused board members of anti-Semitism, and the arts and sciences faculty voted overwhelmingly that it has no confidence in President Miles Davis or David Baca, board chair. Linfield has pushed back on this criticism, saying it investigated the most recent complaints in question and no university policies were found to have been violated. The board’s executive committee has repeatedly expressed its confidence in Davis and Baca, and the board is poised to vote at its next meeting to eliminate the voting faculty trustee seat and add nonvoting faculty members.

Regarding the Listservs, Linfield’s vice president for finance and administration wrote to faculty and staff members over the weekend to say that “based on the request of many faculty we are pausing access to global and college/school emails lists due to the use of these lists to send unsolicited messages.” Even mass emails about the general education revision are paused, and Linfield requests that all broad correspondence be vetted and distributed by the vice president’s office. Joe Wilferth, dean of arts and sciences, also wrote to faculty members to say, “In my experience over the last seven months, what has been written and shared in these various outlets, even on university e-mail lists, only serves to exacerbate what is arguably an already-hostile work environment.”

The board’s executive committee recently endorsed a deans’ proposal that the campus engage in mediation “to facilitate a culture of understanding and mutual respect that leads to university-wide cooperation and collaboration … including the articulation of standards related to professional responsibilities and an institutional code of conduct.” 

Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt, professor of English, underscored the university's desire to adopt a code of conduct and she sees it as an "egregious violation of academic freedom.” Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, another professor of English who has criticized the university publicly, wrote on Twitter, “So, in response to allegations of misconduct, @LinfieldUniv has shut down student comments on Instagram, censored critical posts on Facebook, and suspended campus email lists. Do these folks really think they’re going to win a social media war against Generation Z?”

Trey PetersonWood, a recent Linfield graduate, said Monday that “the more Linfield attempts to censor and silence advocates for accountability, the more damage they are causing to this great institution that has the potential to be a leader in the age of what oppressors call cancel culture, but in reality, it’s the age of accountability.”

 

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