acts or threats of violence. These remarks do not
reflect the views of the institution and Erik
Loomis does not speak on behalf of the University.
The University is committed to fostering a safe,
inclusive and equitable culture that aspires to
promote positive change.
We do not expect any better of the orchestrators of
this campaign--this is what they have done for many
years, and doubtless will be doing for years to come.
We do expect better of university administrators.
Rather than standing behind a member of their faculty,
the administration has sought to distance the
university from Loomis.
Even to suggest that Loomis's tweet constitutes a
"threat of violence" is an offense against the English
language. We are dismayed that the university president
completely fails to acknowledge the importance of
academic freedom and of scholars' freedom independently
to express views (even intemperate ones) on topics of
public importance. This statement--unless it is swiftly
corrected-- should give alarm to scholars at the
University of Rhode Island, to scholars who might one
day consider associating themselves with this
institution, and to academic and professional
associations that value academic freedom.
However, this is not merely a question of academic
freedom. It also speaks to a broader set of rights to
speak freely without the fear of being fired for
controversial views that many of us have been flagging
for years. Everyone should be clear what is going on.
As a blogger at Atrios has pointed out, what the witch
hunters want is for Loomis to be fired. Indeed, the
calls have already begun (see comment thread here).
Though Loomis has a union, his lack of tenure makes him
strong stand for the values of academic freedom and
freedom of speech, that it not be intimidated by an
artificially whipped-up media frenzy, that it affirm
that the protections of the First Amendment require our
collective enforcement, and that all
employers--particularly, in this kind of case,
university employers--have a special obligation to see
that freedom of speech become a reality of everyday
We urge all of you to contact the following three
administrators at the University of Rhode Island:
Dean Winnie Brownell: email@example.com
Provost Donald DeHays: firstname.lastname@example.org
President David Dooley: email@example.com
Be polite, be civil, be firm.
We also call upon all academic and other bloggers to
stand in support of Loomis. We invite others who wish
to associate themselves with this statement to say so
in the comments section to this post, and to republish
this statement elsewhere.
Chris Bertram, University of Bristol
Michael Be'rube', The Pennsylvania State University
Daniel Davies, non-academic
Henry Farrell, George Washington University