Letter to President Sexton

Letter from Scholars to President Sexton
December 2, 2005
John Sexton
President, New York University

We, the undersigned faculty from several universities in the United States and abroad, write to express our objections to the New York University administration’s efforts to defeat the graduate student union and retaliate against those who have initiated and sustained the current strike. The union in question was clearly instated on the basis of a fair election which then obligated New York University to negotiate with the appointed representatives in a fair and open manner. Although the NLRB in 2005 released the university from its obligations to recognize the union, it did not authorize retaliatory action on the part of the university.The recent actions of your office, now widely publicized, defy all protocols of civility and fairness and herald a bellicose approach to the union and its demands for fair wages, decent health care, and provisional job security.

As we all know, there may be differences of opinion on how best to formulate policies that would address these various issues, but undermining the union itself is nothing more than Reagan-esque union-busting and so conveys and enacts hostility to student labor that can only heighten conflict and circulate a ruinous image for New York University as an unfair and indecent place of employment. The infiltration of student and faculty email constitutes an unauthorized invasion of privacy.And the most recent threat to rescind funding for students engaged in the strike constitutes an abhorrent form of coercion.

We urge you to enter into negotiations with the union and to find civil, legal, and productive ways of resolving whatever issues of employment exist between these two parties.


Judith Butler
Maxine Elliot Professor
University of California, Berkeley

Fredric Jameson
William A. Lane Professor of Comparative Literature and Romance Studies
Duke University

Joan W. Scott
Harold F. Linder Professer of Social Science
Institute for Advanced Study

Talal Asad
Distinguished Professor of Anthropology
City University of New York

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities
Columbia University

Paul Gilroy
Anthony Giddens Professors of Social Theory
London School of Economics

Donna Haraway
Professor of History of Consciousness
University of California at Santa Cruz

Slavoj Zizek
International Center for Humanities
Birkbeck College, University of London

Etienne Balibar
Professeur émérite, Université de Paris X Nanterre
Distinguished Professor of Humanities, University of California, Irvine

Hayden White
Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature, Stanford University
Professor Emeriti History of Consciousness, University of California at Santa Cruz

Click to add your signature to the letter, and view an updated list of signatories.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s