NCOBPS Petition to University of FL for Actions Against Political Science Expert Testimony

NCOBPS Petition to University of FL for Actions Against Political Science Expert Testimony

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National Conference of Black Political Scientists started this petition to President, University of Florida Dr. W. Kent Fuchs

Dr. W. Kent Fuchs
President
226 Tigert Hall
P.O. Box 113150
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611

President Fuchs,  

We, the over 1200 members and friends of The National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS), are sending this letter of concern regarding the recent actions of the University of Florida barring three political science professors from providing expert testimony in Florida Rising Together v. Lee.  Though the issue appears to have since been resolved with the University reversing its decision, it is still deeply disturbing to us as an organization that such unprecedented and unnecessary action would be taken in the first place.  As a result, NCOBPS extends its unwavering support to the three professors at the center of this decision–Dr. Sharon W. Austin, Dr. Michael McDonald, and Dr. Daniel Smith.  Dr. Austin is a longtime member and supporter of NCOBPS and one of the top experts on the subject of voting rights.  Because of her extensive and important contributions in the field, we patently condemn any measures taken to censure her expertise or the expertise of other scholars in the blatant name of maintaining a White supremacist-fueled status quo.  At a time when state legislatures have passed some of the most restrictive voting laws since the 1960s, it is disgraceful that a public university would take actions to prevent experts from providing court testimony.  


Since our organization’s founding in 1969, it has been our mission to support and uphold scholars who bear witness to important questions of politics, particularly those that affect people of the African diaspora.  As political scientists, we understand our charge to not only study these topics, but to also participate and use our knowledge for the betterment of our democracy and society.  As part of that duty and understanding, it is abundantly clear that certain misguided institutional actions have profound implications for tenure and academic freedom in higher education.  These obstacles are especially detrimental for Black women professors who face even greater challenges at the intersection of race and gender, where Dr. Austin stands.  


It is our expectation that the leadership at the University of Florida learns from this case of academic negligence and will apply better logic in the future.  We also hope that this incident does not spawn any gross retaliatory action against Drs. Austin, McDonald, or Smith.  Should there be such a case, NCOBPS will continue to stand behind our colleagues and will support them in all ways possible.  

Respectfully,

Dr. Tiffany Willoughby-Herard, NCOBPS President
Dr. Emmitt Y. Riley, NCOBPS Vice President
Dr. Kathie Stromile-Golden, NCOBPS Executive Director

 

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