Angry faculty members are accusing the chancellor of a double standard — suspending a professor for recording video of a Chief Illiniwek portrayer in a restroombut failing to suspend others accused of sexual misconduct.
Religion professor Bruce Rosenstock said at Monday’s Academic Senate meeting that Chancellor Robert Jones violated Illinois administrative statutes by placing media and cinema studies professor Jay Rosenstein on paid administrative leave for an incident Jan. 22 at a men’s basketball game.
Rosenstein, who produced the anti-Chief documentary “In Whose Honor?” admits entering the restroom and recording video of Ivan Dozier but said he was doing so to determine whether university employees were helping Dozier don Chief apparel for an unofficial and unauthorized appearance at the basketball game.
Rosenstock contended paid leave legally is limited to disciplinary action and can last only 10 days. Jones, however, contends the leave is for investigative purposes only.
Other senators compared the handling of Rosenstein’s suspension to how Steven Salaita was blocked from being hired after making controversial social media postings that many regarded as anti-Semitic. Sued by Salaita, the university agreed to pay him $875,000 after initially saying he was hired then not presenting his appointment to the Board of Trustees for formal approval.
Jones said administrators would meet soon with the campus Faculty Advisory Committee to discuss the situation with Rosenstein.
However, senator David O’Brien, a professor of art history and French and Italian, said: “It would seem that what you did kind of ran roughshod over the statutes.”
O’Brien said Jones should have met with the committee before putting Rosenstein on administrative leave.
Rosenstein was arrested at the game, but State’s Attorney Julia Reitz declined to prosecute him for what some consider to be a violation of federal Title IX provisions regarding sexual misconduct.
“What seems curious to me is that it feels like a moving goalpost a bit if we’re putting Professor Rosenstein on administrative leave for this thing . . . but there are other people with active Title IX files on them and they are not on leave,” said senator Kathryn Clancy, associate professor of anthropology and a member of an ad hoc committee on the impacts of sexual harassment with the National Academies in Science, Engineering, and Medicine.
With a conversation about the university’s controversial mascot history at the precipice of the senate meeting, more conversation was to be had about what the faculty could do about the university’s representation. Chancellor Jones called it a “murky situation,” but also said that the school doesn’t have the authority to stop individuals from displaying the chief in offices or on clothing, adding that he doesn’t want the university to infringe on people’s freedom of speech.
Jones also talked about the strikes that occur frequently on campus. He said that there is always room for improvement in the university, and he and his team are working to negotiate a contract.
When further pressed on the issue, Chancellor Jones declined to comment any further, citing the issue as a personal matter. “This is the decision that was made in the best interest of the students who were enrolled in the class, the professor, and this University.”