Ed.   Remember Batman? How about Zorro?

Batman and Zorro  could fight crime only while their Bruce Wayne or Don Diego de la Vega identities were kept secret.  Here on campus we are all “Zorro”:  no matter how idealistic our goals might be, no matter what how relevant our speech is to our areas of expertise, we are told not to speak as if we can be identified as UW faculty.

I would challenge our admin to explain how such warnings are consistent with the the Faculty Code’s description of our duties .  As faculty,  for example, we

Zorro, UW Prof. Identity is a Secret

“are encouraged to participate in the work of nonprofit … scholarly, editorial, and advisory bodies including governmental bodies related to their academic work, and to serve on public commissions or boards of philanthropic organizations. These involvements are most appropriately characterized as University and community service and are complementary to University responsibilities. …  prior approval is not required. ….

Faculty members, librarians, or other academic personnel are also encouraged to accept invitations by nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities, and governmental agencies.”  (Link)

Liu Xianbao, Professor of Literature

I am sure that our admin sends out these intimidating letters out of fear of political reprisals.  This story from Wisconsin smells too similar to the all to real sentencing of academic dissidents like or Liy Xianbin 刘贤斌 or Liu Xianbao, , this year’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and a Professor of Literature. Liu was sentenced for questioning to right of the Communist Party to rule China.

William Cronon, Professor of History, UWisc

I assume the Republicans in Wisconsin are going to claim that professors of literaturehistory are not qualified to profess on how they are governed?


Wisconsin GOP: You’re damn right we requested Walker critic’s emails

As I noted below, Wisconsin University professor William Cronon is alleging that the Wisconsin GOP has demanded access, under the state’s open records law, to his private emails from his state university account, in retaliation for his harsh criticism of Scott Walker and the party.

Now the Wisconsin GOP has responded by doubling down on its request — and remarkably, the party is refusing to explain why it wants his private correspondence. From Wisconsin GOP executive director Mark Jefferson:

“Like anyone else who makes an open records request in Wisconsin, the Republican Party of Wisconsin does not have to give a reason for doing so.

“I have never seen such a concerted effort to intimidate someone from lawfully seeking information about their government.

“Further, it is chilling to see that so many members of the media would take up the cause of a professor who seeks to quash a lawful open records request. Taxpayers have a right to accountable government and a right to know if public officials are conducting themselves in an ethical manner. The Left is far more aggressive in this state than the Right in its use of open records requests, yet these rights do extend beyond the liberal left and members of the media.

“Finally, I find it appalling that Professor Cronin seems to have plenty of time to round up reporters from around the nation to push the Republican Party of Wisconsin into explaining its motives behind a lawful open records request, but has apparently not found time to provide any of the requested information.

“We look forward to the University’s prompt response to our request and hope those who seek to intimidate us from making such requests will reconsider their actions.”

That is quite remarkable. Wisconsin Republicans are not only unabashedly doubling down on the request, but they’re also accusing Cronon of intimidation, because he is objecting to their demand for access to his private emails. Also note that the party offers no explanation for why they think there are any questions over whether Cronon behaved in an “ethical manner.” That alone should raise suspicions that the Wisconsin GOP’s use of the open records law — one that’s ironically meant to foster good and clean government — is really about retaliation against Cronon for his criticism of elected officials.

It’s worth noting that at a time when the national media had largely moved on from this story, this will only renew media scrutiny on Wisconsin Republicans and could add more energy to the drive to recall them.

1 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. theaveeditor #

    The problem is not limited to public freedom of information requests. In my own case, I was ordered to do something I regard as illegal by a UW admin. When I refused, he accessed not only may email but my phone records.. If the Faculty Senate had the courage to do so, it would put limits in this obvious intrusion into academic freedom.

    One reason The-AVE.US is NOT hosted on campus is because we use non UW email for AVE related correspondence, We have posted on this issue already and are planning to offer everyone instructions on how to keep your private communications protected under the privacy laws.

    Since telephones are now also data, I suggest regarding any use of UW’s phone system as public as well. If you have a cell hone, use it.

    In the meantime there is a simple and practical answer for email, … avoid using a UW email account. As of now the UW does not require that you even have a .edu account. Moreover, unlike UW email (including the new UW administrated GMAIL or Exchange accounts) private email should be free from search.

    The simple trick is to use any of the major, web based email providers .. GMAIL, Microsoft LIve, Yahoo, AOL, etc. Because the clients for these are on the web, the only imprint that is left on a UW server is encoded and very difficult to retrieve. Nothing is left on your own computer, as along as you use only the web based client.

    As for your .edu address, it is fairly easy to have mail coming to that address forwarded to your private address. This does mean that your incoming mail will be on a UW server.

    There are, two exceptions: First, if you have a computer that accesses clinical information protected under HIPPA, the UW does not allow you to forward email. Second, if you send email to a .edu address, that email can be read accessed. This is confusing since your own email may contain copies of the email conversation.

    If the Faculty Senate had the courage to do so, it would put limits in this obvious intrusion into academic freedom.

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