December 18, 1999
From now on,
please point your browsers at
This is the
new, and more organized and detailed site that replaces this informational
It will be
updated more regularly than this one was, and will include more actual
I would especially
like to draw attention to the new feature, the narrative of the four students
who failed Suspense Fiction in Fall 1998, filed a grievance, and had their
No Pass changed into a Pass.
and response begins at
Cruz Sentinel article about my anorexia and my hunger strike has uncovered
a subculture I hadn’t been aware of. So far three readers of that article
have emailed me, asking if I would be posting photos of my mortal coil
as it dwindles. I checked with the quick cam out of curiosity – ribs are
visible occasionally but only at certain angles. That’s as close to a picture
as I’m providing, I’m afraid, and my last word on the subject, however
reticent I am to seem ungracious to the only correspondents I garnered.
might be popular this time of year, especially among Protestants. What
could be more heartening than to nestle in a warm, well-paying household,
than to cuddle before the Sony Trinitron and watch a stranger get beaten
up by thugs? For the UCSC campus community, while this spectacle means
that we can no longer say, „It can’t happen here,“ some of us have never
said that in the first place. And others can take consolation in the fact
that, while they can’t say it can’t happen here, that can still say the
far more important, „That can’t happen to me.“ I think, however, a surer
bet would be to say in these cases, „That’s not happening to me now.“ But
I’m probably projecting. Not belonging to the master sexual orientation,
even when this wasn’t happening to me, I never thought that it couldn’t.
If that gives me an advantage over anyone, I’m not gloating.
I am an associate Professor in the Department of
Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz. I have taught at
UCSC since September, 1989. From 1984-1989 I taught at the University of
Minnesota. I love
teaching and I believe that a significant majority of generations
of students with whom I have had the pleasure to work have found my
involvement in their education a
positive experience. I have a great deal of documentation that would
substantiate this claim.
Currently I am involved with a crisis with the administration
that is the most serious crisis of my career, and one which threatens to
end my career altogether.
I am taking advantage of the
Web to make public my version of the case, its history and the current
state of things. As will be obvious by some of the paragraphs below, much
of the text began as an open letter to the faculty of my department. I
believe the situation now calls for wider „publicity“ and an appeal to
a larger potentially
I will update this site regularly.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Earl Jackson, Jr.
To: The Faculty of the Literature Department and
Other Interested Parties
From: Earl Jackson, Jr.
Re: Why I am not teaching Fall 1999.Updated
November 28, 1999
I realize it is highly unusual to make public so
many details about a sensitive situation. I do, however, feel that you
have a right to know what has been happening. While I understand that the
official silence surrounding this case is a function of regulations intended
to protect individual privacy, it is clear that many of the recent difficulties
and misunderstandings have arisen precisely because these regulations have
made it necessary at times for people to form judgments and take actions
without benefit of information that might have proven useful. I will stick
to the most pertinent „facts“ of the case here, and will be brief. This
is meant to be a synopsis, not a defense or a counter-argument. Furthermore,
in fairness to the Literature Department Chair Professor Jordan, Co-Chair
Professor Warren, and former Chair Professor Nygaard, I wish to preface
my version of the history by pointing out that this is indeed my
version of it. Please be aware that I am not bound by the prohibitions
against speaking about the case that Professors Jordan, Warren, and Nygaard
are observing. I will also keep this in mind, as this imbalance means that
any discrepancies between my version of the case as I present it here and
the department’s version might go unchallenged. I do not intend to take
advantage of this situation. I welcome questions and further inquiries.
It is very, very important to me that this situation get resolved and that
I earn the privilege of fully reentering campus life as
a colleague. This is why I am taking this rather unorthodox method
of communication, but in so doing I do not wish to antagonize or alienate
anyone. Quite the opposite.
Because of the isolation in which I conducted myself
the last three years, I do not expect any particular sympathy or concern
for me personally. Although that isolation was a symptom of the traumatic
brain injury and my disastrous attempts to compensate and continue teaching,
I will also take responsibility for it and will accept the consequences
of that solitude.
I am writing of the current situation, nevertheless,
because I think it should be registered somewhere, among some people who
might not be entirely unsympathetic, had more information been provided
more freely, and certain lines of communication not been closed. If nothing
else, the circumstances and whatever their final denouement will be should
prove instructive, and certainly cautionary. Below I list a series of historical
„facts,“ cognizant of the minefield I invoke with that term.
Since 1993, I have been struggling with anorexia.
It is a complex condition, and in fact I think, really names a variety
of complexes, not all of which are closely related. The form mine had taken
also affected some of my organizational skills which was making it difficult
for me to write and keep track of narrative evaluations, which we write
for each student in a course in place of letter grades.
The delinquent evaluations rose in number and I was
asked to meet with then Chair Loisa Nygaard. During these meetings I told
Chair Nygaard of the anorexia, which was the first time I had mentioned
it to anyone affiliated with the university. Treatment for anorexia (at
least for men) was not covered by my insurance, but I was determined to
get help and to get the evaluations done.
Time passed and the situation worsened. In 1996,
during a regular checkup the physician said to me quite casually, „You
better start telling people about your anorexia. You wouldn’t want them
to think you died of AIDS.“ I decided I had to do something quick. In order
to finance whatever treatment would work, I signed a contract with Lycos
press to write a book on how to use the Internet for college entrance and
college work. The time schedule was grueling and the penalties were enormous
for late submissions. I signed the contract on August 30, 1996. Completed
chapters were due every Wednesday and the entire book, including introduction,
appendices, and captioned illustrations had to be at the press by October
In Spring 1996, the Literature Board asked me as
a favor to the Board to develop and teach a lower division course in the
Fall of 1996 as they were short one for that year. I was already scheduled
to teach Advanced Japanese that quarter. Thus, I taught Japanese 103 on
Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Detective
Fictions on MWF that quarter. The Detective Fiction course was a large
lecture course. I gave the lectures, and taught one of the five sections,
the other four taught by extremely talented and dedicated graduate students.
We also offered screenings of relevant films on Tuesday evenings.
On October 9, 1996 I was working desperately to finish
the Lycos book in order to submit the last of the manuscript before the
deadline the next day. I had arranged to ride back home to San Francisco
with Professor E. G. Crichton that evening, and had agreed to meet her
in the parking lot nearby by office at 8PM. I worked right up until the
stroke of 8, and I hastily packed and ran down the hall so that I not keep
her waiting. It was college policy to turn out the hall lights in my building
after 5 PM. This evening, the hall was even darker than usual, because
the bulb was blown in the Exit light above the door, and had been inoperative
for three days. Running in the pitch blackness, I ran my head into the
steel door. Professor Jeremy Elkins, then chair of Legal Studies, found
me face down on the carpet in a pool of blood, unconscious. I came to as
he was helping me up.
While Professor Elkins telephoned for help, I went
outside to find Professor Crichton. She had not yet arrived, and so, in
order to avoid alarming any students who might be in the vicinity, I hid
in the bushes until I saw Professor Crichton’s headlights, and then stepped
in front of her car. The fire department rescue squad came and examined
me. They asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital but I opted for returning
to San Francisco.
The Consequences of the
To make a long story short, the accident caused what
neurologists call a „mild head injury.“ But this „mild head injury“ includes
brain damage that can take years to heal, and some damage may be permanent.
I began experiencing various types of aphasia, memory loss, extreme difficulty
in organizing thing, narcolepsy, fugue states, etc. All of these are consonant
with the kind of injury I sustained. But because the brain cannot monitor
itself, I continued teaching for the entire quarter, not realizing the
extent of the damage. I was an unmitigated disaster in both classes.
In the Japanese class in fact, I fell asleep and
remained asleep for the entire two hours during one session. The teaching
assistants conducted the class as if I were conducting it and I would occasionally
say something, but it was obvious I was asleep. I often forgot to create
assignments for classes, and on one occasion I even forgot to write and
post the midquarter. I could have a ten minute discussion with someone
over the phone and agree to do something at a specific time and an hour
later never recall the conversation at all (and hence not live up to the
agreement). On three occasions I started out for campus at 7pm instead
of 7am. I began having trouble finding street addresses as I could tell
that the numbers were changing, but not whether they were increasing or
decreasing. Because of these spells of physical disorientation at times
a trip to the library from my office would leave me literally lost in the
woods for up to two hours. In December 1996, I finally went to the doctor,
who immediately put me on medical leave for the Winter 1997 quarter.
Winter Quarter 1997
I had been scheduled to teach LTMO 115, „Science
Fiction Practice and Theory.“ A very talented and hard working young
scholar was found to replace me. He and I met every Monday to discuss the
direction of the course. And I created and maintained the course Web site.
During this quarter I was invited to participate
in the All University Conference on Internet Education. I attended, presented,
and participated but I could tell that I was struggling to compensate for
serious cognitive impairments. As late as this summer (1999) I have been
subject to spells of complete physical disorientation, in which, for example,
going to the library from my office I would get lost in the woods for as
long as two hours.
Spring Quarter 1997 – Fall 1998
When I took the Medical Leave for the Winter of 1997,
I intended to return to teaching the Spring of 1997. Many of my best students
would be graduating, and they had been looking forward to fulfilling their
Senior Exit Requirement with my Senior Seminar, „Hysteria
I returned to active duty that spring without seeing
the attending physician who had originally granted my leave, and thus without
getting a medical clearance to return to work. I now realize that I would
not have passed the neurological examination. But my judgment was impaired
by the very condition that would have kept me from campus.
I continued to teach, but the difficulties I had
had continued, and my ways of compensating were quite harmful to my effectiveness
as teacher disastrous to my presence or usefulness as a colleague. I thought
only of teaching, and had developed a total tunnel vision – never even
opening my campus mail or access any venues of collegial networks. I wasn’t
being unfriendly, I honestly had occluded everything around me to get through
the act of teaching.
Situations of course arose of which I had absolutely
no knowledge, since I was not opening my mail. By the time I learned of
these situations, they had worsened considerably, and the parties involved
were understandably frustrated and angry with me, as they assumed I was
simply not responding to them. They would have no way of knowing that I
had not opened any mail, and certainly, even if I told them that, that
would in no way excuse my unresponsiveness. Since for the most part I seemed
perfectly „normal“ it would be hard for people to believe I was so severely
impaired. I literally forgot I had a mailbox. And there were many times
that I did not open email from Chair John Jordan simply because my memory
quirks allowed me to forget that his email address was completely unrelated
to his name. Most of the email Professor Jordan directed to me individually
at the time was of immense importance and the fact that I didn’t respond
tremendously increased his administrative burden, put him in several difficult
situations. Moreover, since I continued to answer mail from other members
of the staff and faculty, my non-response to Professor Jordan’s email must
have seemed completely deliberate. While it might seem difficult to believe
I could so completely forget an email address, let us recall that during
this time I could be lecturing my Detective Fictions class and suddenly
seem to „wake up“ and wonder what I was doing there. At one point I interrupted
my lecture to say to the class, „Well, I’ve been talking to you about Hammett
for a long time now. And you seem to be enjoying it. Do you want me to
continue?“ They laughed goodnaturedly and I continued. No one suspected
I was completely
serious. I couldn’t for the life of me remember why I was doing this
or who exactly these people were. I also gave a lecture of work-in-progress
to the Cultural Studies program that fall. While I was speaking, I kept
looking for clues around the room or the people’s faces to place where
I was. I thought I was in Los Angeles at the All University Conference,
and if so I was starting to panic since I could not remember having booked
a hotel room. And I missed the Qualifying Exams of a brilliant History
of Consciousness student who had flown in from Japan to take the exam.
I missed it because I was in San Francisco and thought I had already taken
the train to Santa Cruz. In my attempt to find the campus I even asked
a police officer who very nearly had me committed, suspected an AIDS-dementia.
That snapped me out of it, but it was too late to get to Santa Cruz, and
this was certainly nothing I could explain easily. Given these disorders,
blocking out an email address seems less unlikely, especially since my
Internet work generates hundreds of email messages a day. Seeing an
email address whose screen name is the name of a famous twentieth-century
painter didn’t ring a bell at all. And this had grievous repercussions,
for which I cannot blame Professor Jordan whatsoever.
My organizational skills and some forms of concentration
became virtually nil. This made catching up with the evaluations extremely
difficult. Managing zip disks and keeping track of them was a nightmare.
I continued to work on them and to find lost ones, but it was an uphill
In the meantime, the Vice Chancellor’s office got
involved in the summer of 1998. I agreed to have all the evaluations done
and submitted by September 1, 1998. As that time drew near, I realized
this was not possible, and I requested a one-month extension, which was
In early October, I sent ten large files as email
attachments to Scripts. To the best of my knowledge, these contained all
the delinquent evaluations. The people at the registrar’s office, however,
found a large percentage of the files unreadable. At this point, instead
of contacting me immediately, I believe they contacted the Vice Chancellor’s
office to report that I had not kept the bargain.
By the time the Vice Chancellor’s office had contacted
me, it had already started proceedings against me. In my impaired state,
my negotiations were haphazard, and must have seemed cavalier and irresponsible.
I have been searching for, and finding many of the
lost evaluations, but as I had not been given a list of which evaluations
were unreadable, my reconstruction of the missing files was quite slow.
At one time I had asked for the loan of a laptop computer that would be
dedicated exclusively to the evaluations. The trouble arises when I transfer
or store files on zip or floppy disks. If I were to be loaned a lap top
that is exclusively for the narrative evaluations I could enter them into
it and never have to transfer them, or to juggle them with other material.
I never received a response to this request, and since this was the period
of my most persistent disorientation, my memory of the process is sketchy.
I did however explain this request and my rationale for it to Dr. John
Walker, the neuropsychologist who wrote two letters on my behalf to the
Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor [see below]. He endorsed this suggested
and strongly recommended that this request be granted.
I was urged to hire a lawyer, which I did in January
After the accident, I had told my landlord about
my memory difficulty, and asked that if my rent check was ever three days
late, that he call me. I also sent three checks at a time, postdated, to
prevent slip ups. With the new housing market allowing unbelievable rents,
my landlord became very anxious to get rid of his tenants. For three months,
he received my rent checks on time, but waited to deposit them after the
15-20th of each month, then filed papers to evict me on the
grounds of frequent tardiness in payment of rent. I went through several
lawyers and went through with court hearing but lost and was evicted. I
looked for a place in Santa Cruz, but the eviction mark on my file made
it impossible. This was in the spring quarter 1999.
And in early May of 1999, I had to move everything
into storage, and I literally became homeless for nearly two months. I
lived in my office while teaching in the spring quarter. This situation
made the search for evaluations and the materials necessary to reconstruct
them impossible. I was able to secure a studio apartment in late summer,
but the logistics of unpacking and organizing a house-full of files and
boxes in a very small space, also made this very time consuming. I am now
fully organized however, and have made finding and redoing evaluations
my top priority.
The situation of the narrative evaluations had reached
the point of a preliminary hearing between the university and myself. In
phone conferences with officials my lawyer was confident that we could
avoid a full hearing by presenting our case and the details of the medical
condition, a condition the university would know of having granted the
medical leave in Winter 1997. The preliminary hearing was held on May 7,
1999, attended by myself, my lawyer and my friend Ray Davis on my side.
On the university’s side it was the Vice Chancellor, the Assistant Vice
Chancellor of Benefits, a Senate staff official, and the University lawyer.
We presented our side of it and the University lawyer
listened with a warm and friendly smile, at times bending his face toward
a shadow giving the effect of „concern“ whenever the details of the injury
were being discussed.
The University Lawyer’s friendly smile never faded
as he responded by dismissing the injury as a complete fiction, and proceeding
to describe his plan to destroy my standing in the university if he could.
He refused to forego the full hearing which was set for Friday, May 14
at 2 PM. He assured us that it would last many hours and may even have
to be continued to the following Friday. Both through my lawyer and in
asides to me at this meeting the University lawyer threatened to go after
me even more severely if he discovered that I had published any major or
substantial works during the period between 1996 and 1999. He even suggested
that he would continue to monitor my curriculum vitae and any evidence
of scholarly publications would bring shift retribution. I had made the
case that one of the many losses I had sustained from the injury was the
postponements of my publications. My book on Samuel
R. Delany had been stalled now for nearly three years, and other articles
either solicited or even accepted for publication were still on hold. He
rewarded me with a tentatively merciful semi-grimace and replied, „I hope
My lawyer and I were baffled as to how long a hearing
could last since we were not contesting the „facts“ of the charges against
me, namely that I was late in submitting the narrative evaluations. We
found out. The university lawyer produced a dazzling choreography of well-rehearsed
witnesses brought in one at time whom he led through perfectly executed
memorized exchanges. None of the testimony was new information. It lasted
over seven hours and nearly exhausted the court stenographer provided.
The information gleaned from this witnesses was essentially identical to
the information in my testimony. But the arrangement and presentation of
witnesses and the lawyer’s rhetorical pyrotechnics that culminated in his
astonishing summary portrayed me as a menace to education and to the welfare
of the students in general. He urged the Privilege and Tenure committee
to ignore the issue of the head injury and to endorse his recommendation
that I be placed on two quarters of suspension without pay. My lawyer argued
that I should be placed on two quarters of medical leave to allow me to
concentrate on recovery and rehabilitation so that I could return to teaching
a full and productive member of the UCSC community, as I had been prior
to the accident.
The Privilege and Tenure Committee is the special
Faculty Senate committee who heard the testimony and would then study the
voluminous documents supplied by both sides of the dispute. After study
and deliberation they would submit their report to the Chancellor, along
with their recommendation. The P&T Committee is empowered only to make
a recommendation based on the evidence at hand, but they have no power
to enforce the recommendation. Whether or not the recommendation of the
Committee is accepted is at the discretion of the Chancellor. The Chancellor
is also free to negotiate alternative solutions with the accused faculty
member, or to impose the punishment recommended by the University lawyer.
The only thing the Chancellor is not allowed to do is to impose a punishment
more severe than that recommended.
After the hearing was adjourned, a senate official
gave my lawyer a large manila envelope which contained documents involving
new charges against me. She asked him to study them, consult me, and to
submit a written response to the charges by May 30. I myself never saw
those documents. Because of my habit of not opening mail and my difficulty
in organizing documents and information I was a terrible client. It put
my lawyer in the position of defending me against the plaintiffs and myself.
Two days after the hearing, my lawyer resigned from my case, and I never
retrieved the documents in question.
A recap of events from October 9, 1996-November
Earl sustains an injury in Kresge College. The injury
was the direct result of the Kresge College policy of turning hall lights
off after 5pm, and the Exit light above the having been blown and not replaced
for three days. Witnesses: Professor Jeremy Elkins [who found Earl unconscious
in a pool of blood], Professor E. G. Crichton, and the paramedics on the
Earl continues teaching as is far too impaired to realize
the level of impairment. Teaching is a disaster and the symptoms increase
until he sees a physician in December 1996 who immediately places him on
a medical leave for Winter 1997
Earl returns to teaching in the Spring 1997 without
obtaining medical clearance or undergoing a neurological examination to
determine fitness for duty. The symptoms continue and with them patterns
of behavior of defensiveness and secrecy as coping mechanism and attempts
to compensate for the aphasias, blackouts, narcolepsies and memory holes
that make daily living quite difficult.
The situation with the narrative evaluations, already
serious before the accident is unbelievable now. This is exacerbated by
Earl’s new difficulties in organizing files, in remembering where anything
is or even remembering recent conversations in which he had made specific
agreements or promises. He occasionally missed class or on campus appointments
because he had thought he was already in Santa Cruz when he was either
still in San Francisco, or at some Caltrain stop along the way at which
he disembarked while sleeping.
In April 1999 a hearing before the Privilege and Tenure
committee was set for May 14. The University Lawyer would recommend as
punishment for the delinquent evaluations two quarters suspension without
pay. Earl’s attorney would argue for two quarters medical leave.
May 14 1999. The hearing, under the direction of the
University Lawyer, lasted nearly seven and a half hours. The Privilege
and Tenure Committee thereafter studied the testimony in transcript and
all the documentation. Point of Information: The P&T Committee has
no power of enforcement. They can only offer a recommendation to the Chancellor.
The Chancellor, in most cases, takes the recommendation of the P&T
committee. Even the recommended punishment is a protection for the individual.
The Chancellor may impose the recommended punishment, impose a lesser punishment,
or take some other non-punitive action. What s/he cannot do is to impose
a punishment greater than the recommended one.
In the Summer of 1999, the
Privilege and Tenure Committee sided with Earl’s lawyer, against the University.
They also recommended two quarters medical leave, and NOT the punitive
In August of 1999 Chancellor Greenwood sent Earl a letter
saying that as an interim measure while she studied the results further,
that she had decided to suspend from teaching in the fall quarter of 1999.
Earl would be on full duty and expected to hold office hours and carry
out all other duties. He would not however be allowed to teach, participate
in qualifying exams, sit on orals, give directed readings or independent
studies. In Autumn 1999 Earl was scheduled to teach a large upper division
lecture course, Cinema
and Subjectivity, which he had developed over the previous year but
had never taught as yet, and a graduate seminar on psychoanalysis
and semiotics. The graduate seminar was cancelled and the lecture course
was given to another faculty member.
In early Sept. 1999, Chancellor Greenwood sent Earl
another letter, informing him of her decision to impose the punishment
recommended by the university lawyer for Winter and Spring quarters 1999.
She stipulated, however, that if Earl could provide evidence of a medical
condition for the period in question, she would lift the suspension and
grant medical leave for those two quarters.
Vice Chancellor’s Simpson set October 29, 1999 as the
deadline by which „sufficient evidence“ of a „medical condition“ must be
provided for the medical leave to be granted.
In Sept 1999 my neuropsychologist, Dr. John Walker (also
a professor of Neuropsychology at UCSF) sent Chancellor Greenwood and all
parties involved in the situation a detailed letter of his initial findings,
and his recommendations. Dr. Walker describes the tests I underwent under
his direction this summer, and what they indicated that substantiated my
claims about my impairment and the kinds of impairment I had experienced.
In the letter Dr. Walker endorsed my request for the loan of a laptop computer
to be dedicated exclusively to inputting and storing the missing narrative
evaluations. He also pointed out that since Earl was now fully aware of
the nature of the problem and was working with a team of specialists in
a concerted and coherent rehabilitation program that Earl was far healthier,
more competent, and that the prognosis for a full recovery is excellent.
In October of 1999 Vice Chancellor Simpson responded,
rejecting Dr. Walker’s letter as evidence of a medical condition in the
past. Vice Chancellor Simpson treated the letter as if it had been a request
for computer and clerical assistance. He pointed out that Earl had always
had „technical assistance“ available to him and „clerical assistance“ in
the steno pool. He now offered Earl the clerical assistance of the staff
at the benefits office who would assist him in organizing files if Earl
first put them on disks and present the disks to them. In closing he reiterates
the Chancellor’s message to me that if „sufficient evidence“ is not provided
by October 29, 1999, I will be suspended for the Winter and Spring
On October 26, 1999 Earl personally handed Vice Chancellor
Simpson a second letter from Dr. Walker. This letter was much longer than
the first, and addressed all the issues Vice Chancellor Simpson raised
in his initial response. It also detailed the tests administered this summer,
their function, the results, and what those results indicated, all of which,
the Dr. Walker tconcluded, supported the granting of the medical leaves
in place of the punitive suspensions, and did so within the parameters
of „evidence“ as requested by the Chancellor and interpreted by the Vice
On October 29, 1999, I received a letter from Vice Chancellor
Simpson, thanking Dr. Walker for his thorough evaluation, but once again
rejecting it as evidence of a medical condition during the period in question.
He concluded that the only „medical difficulties“ involved are ones from
which I suffer currently. He „sincerely wish[es]“ me „the best in
dealing with [my] current health issues,“ and assures me that he will see
„that the campus is as supportive as it reasonably can be in this case.“
Having failed to see any evidence of a medical condition in the past in
Dr. Walker’s letter, however, Vice Chancellor Simpson also finds „no basis
for departing from the planned suspension without pay for Winter and Spring
Quarters 2000.“ He again offered Earl the assistance of the clerical staff
at the benefits office, if Earl would organize the files on disks and provide
the staff with those disks. [In other words, as long as Earl would do the
very thing that he had indicated was the most difficult for him because
of the injury, and the thing that once accomplished, would obviate the
need for additional assistance.]
Earl continued to send letters and to argue the points
in the Vice Chancellor’s letters. Earl attempted to resubmit the medical
records from Dr. Bodenheimer’s files, Earl’s attending physician on whose
recommendation the University granted Earl medical leave in the Winter
Quarter 1997. Dr. Bodenheimer also wrote a letter in May 1999, for the
hearing, stating that I had never been examined for a medical release to
return to work, and pointed out that the medical records provided indicate
that long after March 1997 (when I returned to work) I continued to see
members of Dr. Bodenheimer’s staff for treatment of the same symptoms that
I began experiencing after the injury on October 9, 1996. Vice Chancellor
Simpson replied, saying he „did not wish to revisit“ these documents, as
they had already been reviewed by the Privilege and Tenure Committee during
the hearing of May 14, 1999. What Vice Chancellor Simpson leaves out of
that statement is the fact that the Privilege and Tenure Committee, having
reviewed those documents and hearing my case, recommended medical leave
and NOT punitive suspension. Without further context, Vice Chancellor Simpson’s
use of the claim that „the Privilege and Tenure Committee already reviewed
this material“ as a reason not to consider it implies that the P&T
Committee sided with the University lawyer, which is not the case. To my
mind, the omission of the P&T Committee’s recommendation is deliberately
In June, 1999 the IRS sent an inquiry about taxes to
the Payroll office. The payroll office forwarded it to Earl’s mailbox in
Kresge by intercampus mail. It stated that if Earl did not reply by July
15 they would attach his wages. Earl was first in Santa Cruz in September,
when the attachment was already in place at nearly $1,000/mo.
In November 1999, Earl was able to persuade the IRS
to lift the lean temporarily, beginning with the December paycheck.
On November 15, 1999, in conversation with an administrator
about entirely other matters, Earl learns for the first time that Vice
Chancellor Simpson had already removed him from the payroll beginning
Dec 1. The administrator explained that December is considered the beginning
of Winter Quarter. In any of the interactions Earl had with Vice Chancellor
Simpson, it must have been perfectly obvious that Earl believed the Winter
Quarter began in January. During at least one of the meetings with the
Vice Chancellor Earl asked what he was to do in January. This should have
prompted the Vice Chancellor to inform Earl that a winter suspension means
cessation of salary after November 1. Earl’s belief that the winter quarter
begins on January 3, 2000, is supported by the UCSC academic calendar in
both its hard-copy and Internet versions. Furthermore, Earl is on „active
duty“ in the Fall quarter, which extends into the second week of December.
It is bitterly ironic that the first paycheck without an IRS lien, the
first check that would have been sufficient to live on for that month was
taken away. In all his correspondence with Earl the Vice Chancellor makes
it clear that he considers Earl to be suffering from some kind of impairment
at present, but dismisses the possibility of a past impairment. Given the
Vice Chancellor’s belief, it seems a bizarre parody of „Scrooge“ to take
away that impaired person’s only source of income at the beginning of the
„holiday season,“ and to keep the date of the salary cutoff a surprise.
On November 20, Earl receives a second „surprise.“ He
had earlier been informed that the University would continue to pay his
health benefits for the Winter and Spring quarters. Payroll had not been
so informed, and if not for the kind intervention of Anne Callahan, John
Jordan, and Assistant Vice Chancellor Julia Armstrong Zwart, who called
Earl to tell him that he had to call payroll by that date, he would have
lost the health benefits.
Later that day, Earl receives several more „surprises“.
While the University will continue health benefits, all others had to be
paid monthly by Earl directly to payroll. This includes Dental, eye care,
accidental death and dismemberment, and life insurance. These must be paid
promptly according to the schedule for payment of premiums, and any failure
to meet the deadline will terminate the benefit. The option for continuing
disability insurance was already closed, as that has a separate timetable.
According to that time table, winter quarter began on November 1. When
Earl asked how he was supposed to have known this in order to make the
required payment on November 1, the administrator replied that it was Earl’s
responsibility to inform himself of these timetables before he decided
to take a leave.
November 21. Earl receives the official letter detailing
the terms of his punitive leave without pay for Winter and Spring Quarters,
2000, beginning December 1, 1999. During this time Earl will have no library
privileges, no Athena email accounts, no passwords into library research
databases, no access to the Kresge Steno Pool, and no access to his office
or the books and computer housed therein. The Kresge Steno Pool staff have
already received a letter from the Vice Chancellor’s office informing them
that they are not to answer questions or in any way provide assistance
to Earl from January 3, 2000 until the end of Spring Quarter 2000. They
were also instructed to remove his name from his mailbox on January 3,
Earl must find a job if he is to keep from being evicted
in January. Looking for a job in San Francisco is difficult at the moment,
because of his duty to keep office hours weekly in Santa Cruz. Earl has
been attempting to move back to Santa Cruz, however, this is now inadvisable
as there would little chance of employment there.
Barring Earl from Athena accounts makes it impossible
to work with the registrar to locate lost evaluations and update the progress
on rewriting lost evaluations, as such an account is necessary to integrate
within the database and communication system set up and maintained by the
registrar for this purpose. Denying Earl access to his office, his computer,
and his files, also makes organizing, searching and retrieving necessary
Under Earl’s health plan there is a $20 copayment per
visit to the specialists Earl sees. Denied medical leave and complete cessation
of income thus makes the rehabilitation program more difficult. While this
will not deter Earl, it does, however, cast suspicions on the sincerity
of the „concern“ that the Vice Chancellor expresses in every letter.
In 1998 Earl was elected a national delegate to the
Modern Language Association. This requires him to attend the National Conference
every December for three years, beginning in 1999. Under ordinary circumstances,
the delegate’s home institution provides some funding, given the importance
of the organization in the field. Now, without such institutional funding
and no salary to replace that funding, Earl will have to resign. Furthermore,
since he cannot look for a job until the Fall quarter ends in the second
week of December, he will have to either be looking for one, or perhaps
already working at one by the end of December. The kinds of jobs available
will not have the flexibility of academic jobs.
Finally I would like to point out that the Chancellor’s
decision not to follow the recommendation of the Privilege and Tenure committee
is unusual. Secondly, I believe that, in suspending me from teaching in
the fall quarter, she exceeded the recommended punishment. The official
response to my claim is that no one would consider getting salary without
teaching a punishment. That’s the trouble with blanket generalizations,
however, one exception makes them untrue. And I doubt I’m the only exception
I certainly hope not at any rate.
I recently learned that students on campus this quarter
circulated a petition protesting my suspension and presented copies of
it to Chair John Jordan, Chancellor Greenwood, and Vice Chancellor Simpson.
I have not seen the petition, nor have I seen the responses to that petition
sent to the organizing student by Chancellor Greenwood and Vice Chancellor
Simpson. I have also received a sizable number of email messages from students
currently enrolled and students who have graduated, who, having heard through
various grapevines of my dilemma wrote to lend me their support. While
I am considering eliciting letters of support from past students, I am
currently still weighing the ethical issues involved in that request. I
did not solicit either the petition nor any of the letters of support I
have received to date. I believe this voluntary showing of support suggests
that the a significant body of students do not feel particularly „protected“
by the Chancellor’s decisions.
There is a second-year graduate who has wished to work
with me, and in fact considered it one of his objectives in entering graduate
school. When my graduate seminar was cancelled this fall, he petitioned
the Department for permission to do an independent study with me, either
this fall quarter or even in the Winter. Approximately one week after he
had submitted his petition, he received an email informing him that he
would not be permitted to study with me this year. He asked for an explanation
of how this decision was reached and who was involved in it, and what the
reason for the decision was. Neither of these explanations were given him,
however, on the grounds that there were „privacy issues“ involved. I do
not think that this graduate student feels „protected“ by this decision.
And I concur with him that there are issues of academic freedom involved
I have been trying to move back to Santa Cruz since
last spring. I secured a place close to campus, but the eviction voided
that contract. I continued looking even during my period of homelessness
everywhere in Santa Cruz, but the eviction on the computer database closed
all doors. And the Housing Office could not help because I had already
lived in faculty housing for four years. Vacant accommodations had to be
reserved for incoming faculty and guests of the university. I put most
of my things in storage and literally lived in my office for two months,
slightly more. I found another place in Santa Cruz for late this fall or
winter, but the suspension without pay ended that. There are no jobs in
Santa Cruz.. If the situation changed I’d move back in a second. I would
like to reintegrate myself into the life of the campus and take up where
I should have been. I imagine that is rather hard to believe. Well all
I need is a chance. And a chance is the thing that the Vice Chancellor
is determined not to give me.
The issues, for the faculty at UCSC are the following:
the Privilege and Tenure Committee is the most important Senate Faculty
Committee charged with the duty to hear cases such as the one described
here. The Committee weighs the evidence and makes recommendations that
it has no power to enforce. I am not questioning the reasoning behind or
justice of this. But the Vice Chancellor’s letters clearly indicate that
the recommendation of the Privilege and Tenure Committee can be ignored
and in effect expunged from the historical record. This is how it can be
done: The P&T Committee is asked a question: Has the Code of Conduct
been violated? In my case, the question is Has the Code of Conduct been
violated in my delinquency with the narrative evaluations? The recommendation
of the P&T Committee that I be granted a medical leave does not answer
that question. Strictly speaking, the answer to that question is : Yes,
the Code of Conduct has been violated. I never contested that. But the
Vice Chancellor’s office has reduced the P &T Committee’s recommendation
to an affirmative answer to that question. The vehemence with which the
Vice Chancellor’s office pursues enforcement of the punishment is based
on a monolithic and automatic response to the affirmative answer to that
question. But in what other social setting would the law be so inflexible?
If I had been walking down Market street and a cornerstone of a building
hit me in the head, causing me to stagger dazedly across the middle of
the street against the traffic signal, I could be charged with jay-walking.
And technically speaking, in this case too a law was broken, a code of
conduct was violated. But it would be very difficult for a district attorney
to persuade a judge or jury to punish me for that violation. I do not understand
why the present situation, with such overwhelming evidence of injury and
medical conditions arising from that injury is met with a rigid and relentless
demand for punishment. And again, beyond the particulars of my personal
case, I think it important to distinguish the difference between the Privilege
and Tenure Committee’s inability to enforce its recommendation from the
office of the Vice Chancellor’s practice of suppressing the P&T Committee’s
recommendation from the official record.
any comments or questions you may have about the situation.