National Group Boycotts Sociology Position Search
By John Byrne

The College’s decision to terminate an Asian American faculty member in the Sociology department last year drew nationwide attention in the field and a caucus of Asian American scholars has vowed to boycott Oberlin’s recruitment efforts to fill the position.
“Oberlin College has exhibited a systematic pattern of ‘pushing out’ faculty of color, and especially women faculty of color and of Asian and Pacific Islander origin over the past 15 years,” their resolution reads.
The Association for Asian American Studies, which is composed of more than 500 members from 64 institutions, declared that Oberlin fails to support faculty of color and should reopen the case before an institutional committee “whose composition reflects greater appreciation of the challenges facing faculty of color both in the Academy and at Oberlin, in particular.”
“We serve notice,” it continues, “that until Oberlin College fulfills the above-mentioned conditions, members of the Association have agreed to formally boycott this position, and publicly condemn the unfair labor practices and violation of due process apparent in this case.”
The College terminated Antoinette Charfauros McDaniel, a tenure-track professor in the Sociology department, because she had not completed her dissertation even after being given a two-year extension. It opted not to renew Charfauros’ contract after she appealed in June.
“She was in the process of appealing the [College Faculty Council’s] decision to terminate her contract; and a candidate was brought in for a job interview to replace her, despite the College Mediation Committee’s recommendation to suspend such a search before her appeal process had begun or her final appeal had been submitted to the Board of Trustees, as stipulated in the Oberlin College Faculty Guide,” the resolution states.
The Association’s president, Dana Y. Takagi, a professor of sociology at U.C. Santa Cruz, also wrote a personal appeal to College President Nancy Dye in May.
“A large number of our members formally endorsed the petition request for Oberlin to reconsider Professor Charfauros’ termination,” Takagi wrote. “They also pledged to boycott Oberlin’s attempt to fill the vacated position, until your institution has resolved Professor Charfauros’s case in a just manner.”
President Dye declined to comment.
Dean of the College Clayton Koppes stated that he sent a letter to the Association in February regarding Charfauros’ case. He also rebuked assertions that the College hasn’t worked hard towards retaining and hiring faculty of color.
“As a faculty member I worked closely with the Asian American students and with other faculty members to establish the first position in Asian American Studies,” he said. “And in the History department I worked to establish the first position in Asian American history.”
“One of my principal goal as Dean,” he continued, “has been to diversify the faculty. That means hiring and retaining faculty of color.”
Sociology Department Chair Clovis White stated that he doesn’t know what effect the boycott will have.
“We don’t have any information to suggest how much of an impact this is going to have, if at all,” White said. “Most applications tend to come closer to the ending date.”
The closing date for applications is Oct. 21.
According to student officers of Oberlin’s Asian American Alliance, communication between high administration officials and the Association was reestablished Sunday.
But hurdles still remain, they said. Oberlin’s AAA is insulted that the College did not make any mention of the Comparative American Studies program, of which they believe the sociology position is supposed to be a part, in the department’s published statement of the professorial search.
AAA officers say they met with Dye and White and asked them to extend the deadline until an agreement with the Association has been reached, or at least until they can be assured of more input in the process. They cannot review or take part in the search process until after all applications have been received.
“As of now we don’t know what the Sociology department is doing and we don’t know how many applicants they have, so we’re basically kept in the dark until after the deadline,” senior AAA Co-Chair Freedom Nguyen said.
“There’s so much riding on this position for the Asian American community, for CAS and for the outlook of the school,” added sophomore AAA Secretary Nancy Nguyen. “That’s why it’s so important.”
“AAA is in need of help right now,” she said. “We need the campus to stand behind us.”
White said that student input will be considered, but admitted that students cannot review applications until they have all been received.
“Students on the majors committee will be assisting in the process of selecting and interviewing,” he said. “Students are always involved.”
Chair of the Comparative American Studies Program and Sociology professor Bill Norris asserted that although a sociology position is not formally a CAS position, the new professor will still be a part the program.
“Asian American Studies is part of CAS,” he said, “and I assume that the person who is hired would be a part of CAS through that link.”
If the College does not extend the deadline for applications, it can still opt to conduct another search if the applicant pool is not satisfactory.
“If we don’t have the quality of candidates we want, we will postpone the search and have it later,” Koppes said. But he also noted that this is the second search to fill the position, since the first, in the spring, was not successful.

The page of the Association’s website dealing with Charfauros’ case, prepared by Charfauros herself, is available online at:

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