Racial Bias Alleged in Tenure Process at DePaul

Assistant Professor Philosophy Namita Goswami and Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Quinetta Shelby were among half a dozen  faculty of color (of a dozen who applied) who were denied tenure at DePaul last year. All 22 white faculty members who applied for tenure got it.

‘Goswami’s attorney, Lynne Bernabei, says from very early on there’s been a pattern of discrimination. “Even though Dr. Goswami was hired to do critical race, postcolonial, and feminist work—all by nature challenging to more traditional approaches—they held it against her when she did. They hired her and then wouldn’t let her do her work. They made statements about her scholarship and teaching which, after it was pointed out that they were false, were repeated in the tenure review. DePaul has basically abdicated its tenure process.”‘

See more here.

11 thoughts on “Racial Bias Alleged in Tenure Process at DePaul

  1. I don’t see the de-gendering. It is obvious from the quote’s references to her that she is female.

  2. The quote may suggest this, but I would have expected a feminist blog to draw attention to, and draw out the ways that, Namita Goswami was discriminated against AS A WOMAN OF COLOUR.

    It’s another dimension of the conceptual-political problem that underlies much of the organizing and publicity of this blog. One is either a woman or a person of colour, disabled person, and so on. Women of colour, disabled women, poor women, and so on are invisibilized on this blog. Often posts bear the tag of “Intersectionality,” but there doesn’t seem to be a general understanding here of this theory/concept that is so fundamental to recent feminist theory. I can’t recall when I last saw the term “women of colour” in a post on this blog. I did a quick search and the most recent thing I could come up with was something like this: “I’m familiar with the resources available to women in this area, but need to learn more about the resources available to students of colour.” Do you see the problem(s) with this formulation??

    Similarly, last week there was much praise for certain posts on the New APPs blog, and how they drew attention to some of the privilege that “men” have and “women” do not. There was not even a hint of recognition of the differences between and within “women”. By contrast, there was variation and difference between men (some were named as “white”) In other words, men are distinguishable (and hence, interesting?) and women are, well, just a homogeneous mass. That certainly seems familiar!

  3. Thanks for drawing attention to the intersectional analysis, which is of course important. The article to which this post links does not provide any further information about the way race and gender intersect in the most current round of charges of bias. You are quite right that a richer set of results would result from a more nuanced analysis.

  4. When they cried foul claiming bias procedural problems and academic freedom violations DePauls own tenure appeals panels looked at the evidence and concluded they were right. Smith says the presidents plan would have stacked the hearing panel in favor of the administration and put the burden of proof on Goswami and Shelby when theyve already proved their cases at the appeals board level.

  5. I’m concerned that a post that explicitly mentions the gender of a victim of what is said to be racial discrimintion is said to participate in rendering women of color invisible.

    I think there may also be an issue about when one explicitly mentions something that is, for many of us, pretty obvious. Since we didn’t mention that women who work for Walmart are female, poor and often of color, are we making women of color invisible? I looked over the last twenty posts and discounted the animal ones and the royal wedding one, which left 15. 5 of those were explicitly about issues affecting people who are not middle class white women. One further one was attempting something maybe complex that was about intersectionality that almost no one got. So I’d say that 5 out of 15 are about issues deeply affecting women who are poor, of color. Do we really need to say that when a commentator refers to the repubs depriving women of healthcare that one of the most important things Planned Parenthood does is provide healthcare for poor women, women of color?

    There might well be a good complaint that we do not provide much of an analysis. The blog is about news feminists can use. We produce close to 60 posts a month. So it is what it is.

  6. A clarification: Shelley writes:

    I did a quick search and the most recent thing I could come up with was something like this: “I’m familiar with the resources available to women in this area, but need to learn more about the resources available to students of colour.” Do you see the problem(s) with this formulation??

    The remark Shelley quotes comes from someone explicitly identified as a visitor to the blog who, among other things, has identified a gap in her knowledge and is asking help with it. Shelley appears to attribute the gap, and the statement of the contrast, to the blog and not the visitor. That is a mistake.

  7. I was the visitor with the query regarding resources for students of color that Shelley has quoted—so I’d just like to clarify (and I hope I am clarifying rather than being merely defensive). The resources in question were tools to determine which graduate philosophy programs are friendly towards women. I certainly didn’t mean to diminish any one’s gender identity, but I was asking about similar resources particularly for students of color in that way because I do not want to assume that programs that are friendly to (mostly) white women are necessarily also friendly towards women of color, and students of color generally.

  8. My apologies for bringing you into this more, philosophy applicant. My guess was that Shelley found your contrast between “women” and “students of color.” Maybe she thinks you thereby miss “women of color.” But the contrasts you are using are the very standard ones; we cannot expect ourselves to have the time and imagination to rephrase every question we need to ask.

  9. jj- no worries. It may very well be that my question should not have been phrased in the way it was, but I just wanted to make sure Shelley knew that I asked it in that way because I was trying to be conscious that my experience as a white woman may not be the same as that of a woman of color in philosophy–and not because I do not recognize that students of color may also be women.

Comments are closed.