Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The answer: courage

The question: What do these nine professors (Eric Cheyfitz, Elisa Facio, Vijay Gupta, Margaret LeCompte, Paul Levitt, Tom Mayer, Emma Perez, Martin Walter, and Michael Yellow Bird) have in common? An excerpt of their open letter to the University of Colorado brass regarding the Standing Committee on Research Misconduct's report on Ward Churchill which seemed to seal his fate last year:
Today, Monday April 23, 2007, we, the undersigned nine professors, call on the University of Colorado at Boulder--especially the Standing Committee on Research Misconduct (SCRM) and the Churchill Investigative Committee of the SCRM--to rescind the “Report of the Investigative Committee of the Standing Committee on Research Misconduct at the University of Colorado at Boulder concerning Allegations of Academic Misconduct against Professor Ward Churchill.”

Through a process of careful investigation guided by two experts in the field of American Indian Studies who did not know Churchill before 2006--Prof. Eric Cheyfitz, Ernest I White Professor of American Studies and Humane Letters at Cornell University, and Prof. Michael Yellow Bird, Associate Professor, Center for Indigenous Nations Studies at Kansas University--we have found the Report to contain violations of standard scholarly practice that are so serious that we are now considering the additional step of filing charges of research misconduct against the authors of the Report. These violations include:

- relying on a biased and flawed source for major arguments;
- relying on the artificial exclusion of reputable independent sources that contradict the Report’s argument in order to support its argument;
- suppressing text from a cited source that contradicts the Report’s argument;
- distorting the weakness of the Report’s case;
- artificially limiting scholarly interpretation in violation of norms of scholarship.

These and further violations are explained more fully in the attached summary and documentary evidence packet.

Prof. Wesson, the chair of the committee that authored this report, has already publicly acknowledged and corrected one of these violations in the report (Silver & Gold Record, April 12). But our investigation has uncovered such a pattern of these violations that the report cannot be salvaged through individual corrections. As with any scholarly document found to be so deeply compromised, the Report must be retracted. The violations of standard scholarly practice that are contained in the Report are serious enough to justify failing a PhD thesis, let alone an investigative report that is to serve as a basis for firing a tenured, full professor.
Pretty scathing stuff, to say the least. The Ward Churchill Solidarity Network has a wrap up on the open letter from these nine profs (seven of whom are employed by University of Colorado), and you can check out The Try-Works for more coverage.

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