Statement of Support of Tariq Khan

The CFA expresses its strongest support for Tariq Khan. Mr. Khan is a PhD candidate in excellent standing in the Department of History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Tariq is an engaged, thoughtful, and committed scholar and a wonderful and effective teacher. His presence in our intellectual community is invaluable.

Tariq Khan is also the father of three young children and a U.S. Air Force Veteran.

In November a member of Turning Point USA (TPUSA) threatened Tariq’s children, and an altercation followed. These are tactics typical of TPUSA, an alt-right organization that claims to “educate students about the importance of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government” but in practice engages in repeated harassment of faculty and graduate students with whom they disagree politically. Since then Tariq has been targeted in a vilification campaign by the by Turning Point USA and its associated media arm, Campus Reform. He and his family have been bullied, harassed, and intimidated.

When TPUSA members filed disciplinary charges against Khan through the Office of Student Conflict Resolution at UIUC, a dean in the Office of Student Conflict Resolution charged Tariq with violating the student code and has sanctioned him with Conduct Probation using a video with a Campus Reform logo on it as the main piece of evidence. Khan is currently appealing the university’s decision.

The CFA calls on the University’s Office of Student Conflict Resolution to drop all university disciplinary and “criminal damage” charges against Tariq Khan. We condemn TPUSA’s hateful slander and defamation, and demand that the university administrations protect students, staff, and faculty from coordinated far-right outrage campaigns.


Campus Faculty Association Statement on the Arrest, Release and University investigation into the conduct of Prof. Jay Rosenstein

The struggle over the university’s refusal to enforce its own regulations on the retirement of racist mascots continues. On the evening of Monday, January 22, a person dressed and behaving in racist and mocking ways was allowed, once again, to attend and perform in the stands at the U of I/Michigan State men’s basketball game at the State Farm Center. That night, Prof. Jay Rosenstein was arrested due to his efforts to video document possible collusion between university employees and the people who continue to inflict unauthorized representations of a racist mascot at University of Illinois events.  

On the night of Prof. Rosenstein’s arrest, The News-Gazette gave prominent attention to a pro-mascot U of I alumnus who accused Prof. Rosenstein of filming him while urinating. Upon his release, Prof. Rosenstein publicly stated that that he did no such thing. He entered a public restroom but did not film anyone in any state of undress.

University authorities have suspended Prof. Rosenstein, placing him on “paid administrative leave” pending “an investigation.” In cases of alleged faculty misconduct, the University Statutes provide for “severe sanctions short of dismissal” and “sanctions including dismissal.” In both cases, Senate committees and a hearing must be involved. However, Prof. Rosenstein has been not been informed of the provisions under which he has been suspended, nor of the procedures which are being followed.

The University should pay attention to the fact that although Prof. Rosenstein was arrested and spent a night in the county jail, he was released immediately the next morning when Julia Reitz, the State’s Attorney, determined that no charges would be brought against him.

The Campus Faculty Association states its continued support of efforts to eradicate the evil of the unwanted, corrosive and provocative presence of the racist mascot from our campus. The CFA supports Prof. Rosenstein’s legitimate and, sadly, still much-needed efforts in this regard.

We ask: why does the University of Illinois continue to take no action against the vocal and obnoxious supporters of racism?

We therefore demand that the University:

  1. State under what provisions of the University Statutes Prof. Rosenstein has been suspended.
  2. End the “investigation” and issue a public statement which clears Prof. Rosenstein of wrongdoing on January 22, 2018, as the State’s Attorney has already done.
  3. Investigate how supporters and enactors of the racist mascot are still allowed to perform on campus.
  4. Enforce University agreements and regulations banning representations of racist mascots from campus events and property, implement the recent student government resolution for removal of such representations from university buildings, and educate students at large on the offensive nature of such images.

In defense of Prof. Rochelle Gutierrez

“Mathematics is political.”

We became academics because we were fascinated with an idea. Just one idea, whatever it was. We learned how to pursue it, chase it up and down, through hell and high water. We learned how an idea is like a seed that needs water. We learned how to water it. We learned how to teach other people to water it. We watched it grow and maybe even blossom. We talked about it to people we didn’t know. We tried to show others how interesting it is.  We tried to protect the idea of the idea.

My brother-in-law once asked me what my idea was. I said, the politics of knowledge production. He looked like I had asked him to eat worms. End of conversation. I sat next to a nice man on an airplane once and got to chatting. He asked me what my idea was. I said, the politics of knowledge production. He got the wormy look. End of conversation.

That was some years ago. I think my brother-in-law and the airplane guy had a point. If I couldn’t say a sentence with “a thing” in it, like the name of a place or a person, what was the point? Egghead. Now if someone asks me that question, I produce a sentence that has the name of a place or a person or a thing in it. Fair enough. I realize that sometimes in pursuit of the survival of the idea, I have become overly solicitous, a hovering parent. My instinct was to wrap my idea in many layers of conceptual down jackets before I sent it out into the world.

One of the reasons for this, I hasten to add, is that there are so many idea-growth-haters out there. We should produce reliable, sweet-ear-of-corn-type ideas. The rest are just weeds. Why pay people to produce weeds?

Prof. Rochelle Gutierrez is our UIUC colleague in math education. Her idea, arrived at after more than 15 years of thought, watering, nurturing, is that mathematics is political. She says that the reason that math is taught as if all phenomena could be distilled into one narrow framework is because some people benefit from teaching it that way. The people who benefit from defining the mastery of narrow frameworks as intelligence are the same people who assume that pale skin bestows superiority.[1]  And so the nice sweet corn always produces more nice sweet corn.

Imagine classrooms of low-income urban black and brown students in hoodies debating the relative strengths and weaknesses of Mayan, Yoruba, and German mathematical paradigms and on that basis, concluding that mathematical certainty is a flawed concept. Ouch. Imagine them then taking well-informed issue with social policies (credit scores, incarceration risk assessments, funding for neighborhood schools) built on narrow mathematical models that exclude them because they are deemed “unworthy and expendable.”[2] More ouch.

In October 2017, Rochelle Gutierrez was targeted by a barrage of sweet corn fans, outraged that the field of math education had sprouted such a weed. As we all know, in our vitriolic age, outrage leads straight to calls – not for people to explain their ideas – but for them to lose their jobs, be disbarred, and publicly humiliated.

Rochelle has not backed down, and she has received support from many quarters.[3] She has held workshops for local teachers and UI graduate students about her ideas and about surviving in the blast furnace of public attack. The then-interim provost, Prof. John Wilkin, told The News-Gazette that UIUC believes in academic freedom, that Prof. Gutierrez is a respected member of the academic community, and that “the issues around equity and access to education are real.”[4]

We salute Rochelle for standing up for the rights of teachers and students to learn about the world in new (and old) ways. We should take the then-interim provost up on his declaration of academic freedom, and tend a thousand community gardens – and may the weeds and flowers bloom. With all due respect to the city of Urbana’s summer programming, a good university cannot be the same thing as a sweet corn festival.

T. Barnes

[1] Rochelle Guttierrez, “Why (Urban) Mathematics Teachers Need Political Knowledge,” Journal of Urban Mathematics Education 6:2 (2013), p. 7-19.

[2] Cathy O’Neil, Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy (Crown: New York, 2016).

[3] See

[4] “UI defends professor after book chapter draws attention,” The News-Gazette, 10/26/2017.

More Ways to Support GEO

Welcome to the CFA’s blog. This blog will keep faculty and community members informed of current issues and concerns that the Campus Faculty Association is working on. If you have a topic you would like to write about, please don’t hesitate to contact the CFA and we will do our best to make this platform available to you.

Want to do More?

The GEO has been working without a contract for 121 days. The bargaining sessions have been long and the progress slow. For more details on the sessions themselves, please see

In the meantime, here’s how you can show your support for the GEO during the bargaining process. Lend your voices today to help our graduate students to reach an agreement that recognizes graduate workers as researchers, teachers, and colleagues.

Sign the GEO’s petition to the administration:

Please share among your colleagues, family, friends, and anyone else you know who believes in fair working conditions for graduate labor.

Letters of support sent to the administration on GEO’s behalf will also make a big impact. Here are the key people to contact. You can find a sample letter to download and send on the CFA website.

Board of Trustees: (

President: Timothy L. Killeen (

Provost: Andreas C. Cangellaris (

Chancellor: Robert J. Jones (

Other ways to show your support:

  • Assure your TAs that you will not report to the administration if they go on strike and that you do not expect them to teach, grade, answer emails, etc.
  • Encourage your TAs to mention the possibility of a strike to the students in their sections, so that they understand the issues at stake
  • Demonstrate to the undergraduate students in your course that you, as a faculty member, also support the strike.
  • Talk to other faculty in your department and in other departments and colleges about the GEO and the bargaining process. Explain why you support a strike. This will help inform those who may not know the details.
  • If at all possible, GEO supporters should not teach in the buildings GEO would be picketing. Teaching in those buildings does mean crossing the picket line. Ideally professors would not teach at all, but if you decide to teach during the strike, you can support GEO by moving your classes to a different location outside the area that GEO will picket. If there is a strike, CFA will provide a list of alternate spaces where classes can be held.
  • GEO supporters can join the picket lines as they have before.
  • As always, wearing GEO swag and putting GEO posters on your office door is an excellent and effective way to show solidarity

To keep up with the bargaining progress and actions on campus, follow GEO on social media (Facebook: @uigeo, Twitter: @geo_uiuc, Instagram: @geo_uiuc).

December ExComm Meeting Highlights

Hello Members!

We had a full agenda for our last executive committee meeting of the semester on Monday December 12.

We are still looking for someone to lead our membership committee. If you would like to get involved, we would welcome one or two volunteers to take up this very important role in our organization.

We are planning our spring events, so look for more information on our website coming soon.

Our ExComm meetings for the spring semester 2018 will be from 12-1 on Monday February 5March 5April 2, and April 30. Please join us!

Bargaining continues between GEO and the University.

CFA has issued a statement of support for the GEO:

Campus Faculty Association expresses its support for GEO. The teaching labor of graduate students is essential to the teaching mission of the university. We call on university administration to bargain in good faith to avoid a strike.

The formation of GEO helped to pave the way for NTFC, Local 6546, a union of non-tenure faculty. The possible suspension of tuition waivers is one of the contentious issues in GEO’s negotiations with the university. Even if confined to professional degree programs, such a scenario could have a negative effect on all graduate programs, leading to the end of all graduate programs.

If a strike does occur, we urge all CFA members to refrain from reporting graduate students who participate in the strike. CFA will honor the union’s action and support faculty and students who teach in alternative spaces.

Individual letters of support sent to the administration on GEO’s behalf can have a tremendous impact. Here are the key people to contact. You can find a sample letter to download and send on the CFA website.

Board of Trustees: (

President: Timothy L. Killeen (

Provost (through Jan. 15): John P. Wilkin (

Chancellor: Robert J. Jones (

If you’d like to do more to support the GEO, please see our blog post by that name. The CFA blog will keep members informed of relevant issues. If there is a topic you’d like to write about, please let us know.

In solidarity,


GEO Support Letter Template

If you want to show your support for the graduate employees on this campus, please send a letter using our sample below. The template is also available as a word file at the bottom of this page.

DATE 2017
Andreas C. Cangellaris
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
(217) 333-6677

Dear Provost Cangellaris,

I am writing to express my support for the Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in their effort to bargain a contract. I urge you to accept their proposals for a new collective bargaining agreement. Since their first contract in 2003, the unionized graduate workers have worked to secure increased pay, better healthcare, full tuition waivers, and access and equality protections.
Graduate employees perform essential work for the University as teachers and graduate assistants. At some point, every undergraduate student is taught by a graduate instructor, and over 2,800 graduate workers on this campus provide valuable labor. Without the protections of a robust collective bargaining agreement, graduate employees face hardships. Graduate workers may find themselves having to choose between healthcare and food.

The University of Illinois Administration has ignored the demands of graduate workers at the bargaining table. Despite the fact that Teaching Assistants making the minimum salary earn about $6,000 less than the University’s own published living wage, the university has not raised their wages in a meaningful way or waived fees or provided a childcare subsidy, while attempting to force them to pay significantly more for their healthcare. The teaching labor of graduate workers is a major reason why the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign continues to be a preeminent institution of higher learning and research in the United States. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign would not function withoutgraduate workers.

I urge you to sign the GEO’s proposals for better living and working conditions for its graduate employees.


GEO Support Letter Template

Resolution of Support for GEO

Campus Faculty Association expresses its support for GEO. The teaching
labor of graduate students is essential to the teaching mission of the
university. We call on university administration to bargain in good faith to
avoid a strike.

The formation of GEO helped to pave the way for NTFC, Local 6546, a
union of non-tenure faculty. The possible suspension of tuition waivers is one
of the contentious issues in GEO’s negotiations with the university. Even if
confined to professional degree programs, such a scenario could have a
negative effect on all graduate programs, leading to the end of all graduate

If a strike does occur, we urge all CFA members to refrain from reporting
graduate students who participate in the strike. CFA will honor the union’s
action and support faculty and students who teach in alternative spaces.

November ExComm Meeting Recap

The executive committee met on Monday November 6 at noon at our office in the Y. We continue to work to define our mission, especially our short and medium term goals for the year.
The committee discussed the state of GEO contract negotiations. Two action items emerged. A statement of CFA support for the GEO is in the works, so please watch for it on our website. Jessica Greenberg has taken on the job of compiling a list of spaces close to campus that could be used as alternative classrooms in the event of a strike. The list will be posted on our website with contact information. Faculty can make their own arrangements for space. The CFA will reimburse for the costs.
We are activating our website to notify our membership about issues on campus. Please watch our website for blog posts.
We plan to organize a speaker to address concerns about free speech on campus.
Our next meeting will be on Monday December 11 at noon. We welcome all members.

CFA Fall General Meeting Recap

Hi CFA Members and Friends,

We had 25 people come out for our fall general meeting last Thursday. Thanks to all of you who made it! For all of those who sent regrets — here’s a recap.

Our lively discussion generated two immediate priorities:
1. Joining the Homecoming Parade protest on Friday October 27 at 6:00 pm
2. Support for GEO in their contract negotiations, especially tuition waivers

In terms of our next priority, there are at least two action items.
1. A letter and a campaign in support of our graduate students, their tuition waivers in particular
2. A list of alternate places where classes can be held so that we can respect the picket lines

Please let me know if you’d like to work on either of these projects. We need to get going soon.

We would like to grow the membership, and we’re looking for one or two people willing to chair or co-chair the membership committee. Please let me know if you’d like to serve.

I’ve had two wonderful volunteers to serve on the communications committee. Thank you Harriet and Terri!

Our next executive committee meeting will take place Monday November 6 from 12-1 in the CFA office. Please join us — there’s candy!

See you all soon.

Warmest wishes,
CFA President

2017 Undergraduate Social Justice Scholarship

The Campus Faculty Association is proud to announce that we are awarding up to five $1000 scholarships for undergraduate students who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to social justice in the community.

Winners will be chosen on the basis of their commitment to social justice in the community. To be considered, an undergraduate must be currently enrolled as a student in good standing at the UIUC with at least one more semester of study before graduation. Preference will be given to students who will be involved in social justice activity during the period of the award.

Applications must include a curriculum vitae, a short (250 word) essay describing the student’s involvement in social justice work, and the name and contact information for one reference who can speak to the student’s record in this regard. We will begin to accept applications on September 15, 2017, and applications are due by November 1, 2017. Awards will be announced at the beginning of the Spring 2018 semester.

Social justice efforts may take many forms, including volunteer and paid work. Although usually performed through the auspices of a non-profit organization, it may also involve a less formally structured activity. Whatever form it may take, such activity is not simply charity work but an effort that seeks to improve the living and working conditions for less advantaged members of the community in concrete and sustainable ways. Examples include work associated with: labor organization and strike support; patients’ rights; civil rights; housing assistance programs like Habitat for Humanity; food pantries and food delivery programs; incarcerated people’s rights and education; early childhood development programs; shelters for homeless people and battered women; immigrant rights; and so on.

Please submit applications to All application materials should be submitted as a single .pdf file.