To: Frances Corner, Warden, Goldsmiths
CC: Dinah Caine, Chair of Council, Goldsmiths
Des Freedman, Media, Communications and Cultural Studies
Gholam Khiabany, Media, Communications and Cultural Studies
Lucy Mercer, Co-president, Goldsmiths University and College Union
We are writing as president and general vice president of Rutgers AAUP, the full-time faculty, graduate worker, postdoctoral associate, and counselor’s union at Rutgers University, to protest the removal of Des Freedman and Gholam Khiabany from their posts as Head of Department and Deputy Head of Department, respectively, of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London.
The suspensions are clearly intended to punish two leaders of the actions and strikes at Goldsmiths over the past year to challenge threats to lay off academic workers and professional staff. Earlier this year, our union declared our solidarity with the international boycott of Goldsmiths called to protest these layoffs. Prof. Freedman and Dr. Khiabany wrote to students in their department to update them about the latest protest action: a delay in grading work submitted by students, which they acknowledged would cause a delay in graduation for some students. The following day, Prof. Freedman and Dr. Khiabany were notified of their removal.
We believe the academic workers and professional staff at Goldsmiths are serving the best interests of students by defending the university’s academic mission and integrity. Prof. Freedman and Dr. Khiabany are being singled out for communicating with students and looking out for their well-being—two things Goldsmiths’ Senior Management Team has failed to do throughout the pandemic and the protests over the layoff threats.
These suspensions are shameful and further tarnish Goldsmiths’ international reputation. We call on the university’s leadership to immediately reinstate these highly respected academics and issue a public apology to them.
Rebecca Givan, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Todd Wolfson, General Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT