Call for reinstatement of Professors Angana Chatterji & Richard Shapiro at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS)
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Indian American Muslim Council
6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295
Morton Grove, IL60053
The Board of Trustees
California Institute of Integral Studies
1453 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Subject: Call for reinstatement of Professors Angana Chatterji and Richard Shapiro
Dear Board of Trustees,
I am writing to you on behalf of the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy group dedicated to promoting pluralism, tolerance, and respect for human rights that form the basis of the world’s two largest secular democracies – the United States and India.
It is with grave concern that we have noted CIIS’s suspension of two distinguished academics, Professors Angana Chatterji and Richard Shapiro on July 19, 2011. Several disturbing aspects of the suspension lend credence to the belief that the suspension, and possible termination, are politically motivated:
A. The suspension has been imposed, and an undisclosed investigation initiated against the two professors, in violation of protocol and procedure in CIIS’s own Faculty and Student Handbooks.
B. There has been no public response from the CIIS administrators to the letter from American Association of University Professors (AAUP), dated August 11, 2011 urging reinstatement of the professors. Moreover CIIS has refused AAUP’s offer to send a neutral observer to CIIS to witness the proceedings.
C. The Academic Vice President (AVP) has aired allegations against Professors Chatterji and Shapiro while restrictions have been placed on the faculty from refuting such allegations.
Both Chatterji and Shapiro have earned wide acclaim for their work, at CIIS as well as internationally. At a time when human rights violations across the world have seen an alarming increase, Prof. Chatterji’s work as an international social justice scholar and activist has been widely commended. As the co-convener of the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-Administered Kashmir, Prof. Chatterji has shone a light on brutal human rights violations, some of which are only now being acknowledged by the government of Jammu and Kashmir. Prior to that, she has undertaken ground-breaking scholarship and advocacy work for the rights of minority communities in India, including Muslims, Adivasis, and Dalits. In 2008, IAMC awarded Prof. Chatterji the “Tipu Sultan Award for Courageously Serving India.”
Prof. Shapiro’s work in the spheres of social justice, cultural diversity and ecological sustainability for the last 25 years has earned him the respect and admiration of his peers as well as students. As the co-founder of the Jewish-Muslim Friendship Circle in Kashmir, Prof. Shapiro has amply demonstrated his commitment to interfaith harmony and cultural diversity. For over two decades now, he has been a leader in developing alliance building frameworks and emancipator education for social change.
The suspension of these two luminaries from CIIS on dubious grounds raises questions about CIIS’s commitment to academic freedom, and its own stated goal “to further the effectiveness of emancipator movements such as feminism, social and political liberation, cultural self-expression, and ecological activism”.
Instead of providing support to Prof. Chatterji and Prof. Shapiro for their significant contributions to social justice and sustainable development, CIIS has chosen to adopt a path that smacks of intimidation and autocratic governance for reasons that merit further investigation. It is not surprising that a significant number of students at CIIS have come out in open support of Professors Chatterji and Shapiro and have retained legal counsel to bring about their reinstatement. IAMC is appalled by the fact that CIIS has shown complete indifference to concerns raised about its handling of this issue.
We urge you to be true to your ideals, and revoke the suspension order against Professors Chatterji and Shapiro with immediate effect. If there are credible grievances against these two academics, we urge you to deal with them through established procedures at CIIS. At stake is not only the quality of education at CIIS, but also its commitment to uphold the ideals on which our nation was founded.
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Hindutva then and now: ‘Violent Gods: Hindu nationalism in India’s present’ by Angana Chatterji and ‘Savarkar and Hindutva’ by A. G. Noorani
Persecution of Professors Angana Chatterji and Richard Shapiro
6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295
Morton Grove, IL 60053