Why is the Non-Tenure of the Department of Sociology Professor Sarah Raymundo a Political Issue?

6 February 2009
Posted by Bulatlat

Let us call it for what it is: political repression.

Dr. Clemen Aquino, Chairperson of the Department of Sociology of U.P. Diliman, has yet to explain why her department has decided not to give Prof. Sarah Raymundo her hard-earned tenure. The decision is clear, but the reasons behind it have yet to be revealed.

This is clearly political repression for two reasons. One, Professor Raymundo’s support for a press conference to surface the missing U.P. students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño has been used by Dr. Aquino and some faculty of the Department of Sociology as reason not to give her tenure. They have said that she misrepresented the Department in that event, even as Professor Raymundo has vehemently denied that she used the name of the Department of Sociology in relation to this issue. One year after the said press conference, Professor Raymundo was made to answer questions about whether or not she has been recruiting students into activist organizations, and particularly if she had recruited Karen Empeño.

How can this line of questioning be innocent? How can it be simply about data gathering? Are all members of the faculty of the department put through questions such as these? Is not this line of questioning based on a pre-judgment of Professor Raymundo, which has made her vulnerable in this kind of malicious investigation?

In the early part of 2008, the first votation for the tenure of Professor Raymundo revealed that the majority of the tenured faculty had ignored these accusations, and recommended that tenure be given. It is now becoming clear why the finalization of this decision was delayed. The ones who were on the side of these false accusations were not going to allow the majority to have it their way.

Two, on October 2008, Professor Raymundo was again taken to task for a student’s activism. Julian, a student of Professor Raymundo in one class, had allegedly gone on an immersion and had yet to return. Dr. Aquino and some faculty members again created a fantabulous connection between Professor Raymundo and the conclusion that Julian had “gone missing”. A finger was pointed at Professor Raymundo as the culprit behind the student’s failure to return to the University.

There is of course no truth, nor is there any proof, that Professor Raymundo is connected in any way to this student’s disappearance. But this is what they have added onto their accusation that she was responsible for Karen Empeño’s activism. This seems to have also spelled the difference for the majority of the faculty. At the end of this school year’s first semester, they had a change of heart, and decided against recommending Professor Raymundo for tenure.

What proof does Dr. Aquino have given these grave accusations against Professor Raymundo? If any of these are valid accusations, why has not the Department of Sociology formally filed a case against Professor Raymundo so that the latter can air her side in the proper forum?

Instead, what Dr. Aquino did was to tell Professor Raymundo on November 6 2008 – the beginning of second semester – not to go to her classes until further notice. And while this order has yet to be repealed, Professor Raymundo has continued teaching her classes. In a letter dated November 20 2008, Dr. Aquino says that she consulted with the Office of the Vice President for Legal Affairs on Nov. 7 in order to “give proper consideration for the well-being of students and of Professor Raymundo.” The question therefore is this: What has Professor Raymundo done to warrant a consultation with the university’s legal office? And what power does a Chairperson of a Department have to tell a faculty member to stop going to her classes?

Dr. Aquino is hiding behind her formal interpretation of the process, and feels that she is saved by this from explaining the real reasons. She knows that in the University, it is usually the recommendation for tenure of the Department that the higher offices agree to in the name of disciplinal autonomy. In this case, the Department’s decision not to give Professor Raymundo tenure is a process that has been completed on the level of the Department. And while Dr. Aquino’s act of informing Prof. Raymundo about the decision is part of this process as well, she has yet to complete this process because she refuses to reveal the reasons behind the decision.

Meanwhile, some faculty members of the department have hidden behind their alleged progressive political track records, which is why many who encounter Professor Raymundo’s case do not see that politics, and not academics alone, are the basis of this decision. Prof. Raymundo has fulfilled all academic requirements for tenure, so only one question is clear: why has the Department decided not to give it to her?

Dr. Aquino and some of her Department’s tenured faculty must explain their accusations as well as their decision not to give Professor Raymundo tenure. They must not use the process and their alleged progressive political track records to hide what are unproven accusations behind the decision.

U.P’s belief in transparency, accountability, due process, debate of ideas, and resistance to witch hunting and red baiting, have enriched its long and celebrated history of progressive thinking and action. In the midst of growing commercialization and political repression on campus, in education and in the nation, it is imperative that we defend the rights of progressive teachers.

Stop witch hunting and red baiting!

Dr. Clemen Aquino, chairperson of the Department of Sociology, Explain NOW!

Department of Sociology, uphold academic freedom!

Stop political repression in the U.P. campus!

Justice and tenure for Prof. Sarah Raymundo!

For updates, log on to http://tenureforsarahraymundo.blogspot.com/.

(Posted by Bulatlat)

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