(OPE-L) Iowa sociologist fired for labor/abortion comments

From: gerald_levy1973 (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Tue May 18 2004 - 15:05:14 EDT

Please circulate this to anyone sympathetic. From Steven Colatrella:
I will be notified officially in June that I am going to be fired
from Mount Mercy college. Below are the reasons as listed by the Dean
of the College in a conversation with my department chair of
Sociology, Prof. Mohammad Chaichian. Neither involves teaching or
anything academic. One is a possible unfair labor practice since it
involves comments I made during negotiations over working conditions
while on an official faculty body for that purpose, the other is a
free speech issue involving a comment I made in support of legalized
abortion.  I spoke to the Dean today who confirmed that she is
meeting with my dept. chair in June to begin the process of firing
me. Now is a good time to send emails or phone calls to try to
forestall the action before it is taken, or at least to indicate that
it will be a costly decision for the college's reputation.

I am asking my friends to send emails to protest or express concern
at my impending firing.

Emails can be sent to the Dean of the College, Susan Pauly, at

Emails can mention that only two were comments made by the Dean
Pauly, to the chair of Sociology, Prof. Mohammad Chaichian (who has
supported me) as to why I will not be renewed after next year:

1) a comment I made that the "college is going in the wrong
direction" in reference to the unilaterally rewritten new faculty
manual presented by the administration that allows tenured faculty to
be fired at the whim of the administration (for "unsatisfactory
performance" - left undefined), allows the Dean to force faculty to
teach additional courses if they have low enrollement (left
undefined) and allows the President (who has the final say now on all
grievances even ones brought against himself) to eliminate whole
departments for budgetary purposes unilaterally. The comments were
made as part of negotiations over this manual revision while I was on
an elected body, the Faculty Welfare Committee, whose task is to
negotiate working conditions with the administration.

 2) a comment I made at a faculty/staff meeting in reference to a
survey conducted by administrators of our students, showing that only
25% of female students (who are 80% of the student body) support
keeping abortion legal - half the students surveyed were nursing
majors, our biggest major. I said "That we are sending out a lot of
students who will work in the medical profession and are a priori
opposed to a medical procedure that in many cases is a matter of life
and death for women raises a grave ethical concern". I said nothing
else on the matter. Yet the Dean claims that this comment suggests
that I do not belong at a Catholic college (one where half the
students are not Catholic, like many of the faculty and staff).

I would appreciate it if emails sent to the Dean are forwarded to me
at stevencolatrella@h..., so that I can keep track of the level of
support for press purposes.  Susan Pauly can also be reached by phone
at 319-363-8213.  I can be reached at 319-366-1078.

 Thank you,

 Steven Colatrella


A bit more bio information on me if it helps: I am the author
of "Workers of the World: African and Asian Migrants in Italy in the
1990s" (Africa World Press Trenton and Asmara: 2001). I was
Fulbright Scholar in 1997, and have taught at Bard College, at the
American University of Rome, the New School University, Montclair
State University, Loyola University's Rome, Italy center. I am
currently Assistant Professor Sociology at Mount Mercy College in
Cedar Rapids, Iowa and for the 2003-2004 academic year I am the
current President of the Iowa Sociological Association. I have worked
on the editorial boards of Midnight Notes and Altreragioni, the
latter journal based in Italy. My Ph.D. is in Sociology from
Binghamton University, SUNY, from 1998. I am a former organizer with
two unions, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and the
Committee of Interns and Residents, and the former national Student
Organizer for the National Lawyers Guild, and worked for four years
for the late Edith Tiger at the National Emergency Civil Liberties
Committee, now part of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
--- End forwarded message ---

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed May 19 2004 - 00:00:01 EDT