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FSU Response to Joint Letter from Chancellor and Provost


We write in response to the Joint Statement by Chancellor Suárez-Orozco and Provost Berger on February 10, 2022.  Like many of you, we were troubled by the allegations that members of the Faculty Council had acted in a “racially charged” manner and had trafficked in “racial stereotypes and tropes” in calling into question the administration’s handling of a Dean’s search.   

We were troubled because these are serious charges and should be taken seriously.   But we were also troubled because the Joint Statement was sent by the Chancellor and Provost to the entire campus community, including students and alumni, most of whom were not at the meeting and had no context for understanding a vague statement with unsubstantiated allegations. Finally, we ultimately felt that we could not remain silent any longer once we confirmed that these allegations are entirely false.  They are designed to silence faculty while obscuring the administrators’ own failure to practice the shared governance they so often preach.   

No member of the Faculty Council said anything that was racially charged or trafficked in racial stereotypes at the meeting on February 7th.  Not only is it clear from the transcript of the meeting (attached), but the false nature of this allegation helps explain why no one objected during the meeting itself and why people who were at the meeting were dumbfounded when the Chancellor and Provost released the Joint Statement containing such serious allegations.  

The conversation at that Faculty Council meeting was part of an ongoing discussion, criticism, and objection by the Faculty Council – and faculty governance across the campus – around a pattern of lack of transparency and shared governance on the part of the administration, especially around Dean searches (see the attached letter from the Faculty Council from December).  The FSU knows this pattern all too well. 

Given this, it is hard not to read the allegations by the Chancellor and Provost as an effort to silence faculty and obscure the fact they have not lived up to their own rhetoric of transparency and shared governance – something the Faculty Council has been right to challenge them on.  Faculty should not be threatened or vilified for doing so.  

These false charges were leveled at Jeff Melnick, an active member of both the Faculty Council and the Faculty Staff Union.  As FSU Communications Director, Jeff is often in the line of fire and this is not the first time the administration has attempted to silence him.   We believe, however, that these false allegations are a threat to faculty governance more broadly and the ability of all faculty to speak freely.  It is impossible to trust administrators who falsely accuse faculty of racism in an effort to silence them and consolidate their own power by obscuring how their actions rarely live up to their rhetoric.  

The fact that the Chancellor and Provost attempted to silence faculty by weaponizing anti-racism makes it all the more egregious because it undermines real and ongoing efforts to combat racism on our campus (from entities like the Africana Studies Department, the Cypher, the Undoing Racism Assembly, and many others).  Indeed, it is becoming increasingly evident that the failure of these administrators to live up to their rhetoric of shared governance is matched by their failure to combine a rhetoric of anti-racism with meaningful, concrete, action – and they are now shamefully employing anti-racism against faculty who are critical of their authoritarian decision-making and ineffectiveness thus far in addressing structural racism on campus.  

The Chancellor and Provost owe the Faculty Council a public apology and full retraction.  They also need to admit the truth so evident in the attached transcript – that Professor Melnick’s question was solely about the Provost’s own decision making.  They also owe all faculty, and particularly Black faculty, an apology for the divisions their lies have caused.  

If they are committed to shared governance, they should stop and listen to faculty about how this can be achieved.  If they are committed to undoing racism on campus, they should stop and listen to faculty, staff, and students, many of whom have provided important leadership in this area and have been telling the Administration for years how to address systemic racism (only to be ignored). 


Faculty Staff Union – Executive Committee

Lynne Benson, Senior Lecturer, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality

Dana Commesso, Exercise and Health Sciences, Senior Lecturer II

Caroline Coscia, Senior Lecturer II, Political Science

Monique Fuguet, Senior Lecturer, Mathematics

Sana Haroon, Associate Professor, History

Jessica Holden, Librarian III, Healey Library

Travis Johnston, Assistant Professor, Political Science

Meghan Kallman, Assistant Professor, School For Global Inclusion and Social Development

Linda Liu, Lecturer, Sociology

Jose Martinez- Reyes, Associate Professor, Anthropology 

Jeff Melnick, Professor, American Studies

Tim Sieber, Professor, Anthropology

Steve Striffler, Professor, Labor Resource Center/Anthropology