After 52 years at Brandeis, Prof. Donald Hindley (POL)  is on a one-year terminal sabbatical and will stop teaching at the University. Hindley said that he was not forced to leave, but, rather, he left because he thought that  his own department had become “far more conservative,” and  “far fewer … let me call them, activist, liberal-minded people” are at Brandeis. “I just could not tolerate anymore. It just wasn’t worth tolerating anymore what the place was becoming under Lawrence,” said Hindley in an interview with the Justice. 

As a separate reason for his departure, he noted age playing a role in his health. 

Following the leak of faculty emails from the restricted “Concerned Listserv” this past summer,and University President Frederick Lawrence’s response to the comments in a  July 28, 2014 statement, some faculty members have expressed concerns regarding freedom of speech on campus. While the faculty who were involved with the Listserv, along with the English department, advocated at the September faculty meeting for a discussion with administrators on the state of free speech, such a discussion has not yet occurred.

A number of professors—including Hindley—received a barrage of threats in response to their now-public comments on issues such as the political situation in Israel and Palestine or Brandeis’ initial offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. 

Lawrence responded in an official statement soon after, affirming the faculty’s right to engage “in a full, open, civil and decent manner” but condemning “some remarks by an extremely small cohort of Brandeis faculty members...”

“Concerned” is a restricted email list that was created in 2003 as a forum for interested professors to express their concerns surrounding the Iraq War and has since evolved to bring attention to other issues. 

Daniel Mael ’15 initially published excerpts from “Concerned” emails on the online Breitbart News Network. 

A number of faculty members, including Prof. Mary Baine Campbell (ENG), received threats and hate mail in response to leaked comments from the Listserv. 

One day in September, while receiving what she said was the highest volume of and “most violent” hate mail, Campbell found a sliced and skinned dead rat on her car, she told the Justice.

In another instance, an individual emailed Campbell stating that “a vast number of people know that assholes like you exist at Brandeis and I just wish that all of you could be transported to ... any of the Muslim countries where you could have your genitals mutilated, be raped and then be hung [sic] for having been raped.” 

Hindley said that the “Concerned” leaks “came out of the blue.”

Hindley also stated that prior to releasing the July 2014 statement on the matter, Lawrence had not personally addressed Hindley regarding his remarks on the Listserv. 

He added that Lawrence had not reached out to him personally to discuss his departure from the University, either. 

Campbell said that Lawrence told her in September or October that a member of his staff would reach out to her to make an appointment to discuss her concerns about the threats she was receiving. 

As of press time, Campbell said no one from the president’s staff has contacted her.

In response to some of the “Concerned” Listserv comments that drew national media attention, Prof. Gordon Fellman (SOC), an administrator of the Listserv, said in an interview with the Justice that “[t]he guy who posted some offensive comments, he has a right to say those comments. I don’t like them. I asked him more than once if he would kind of tone them down … but he has a right to do that, and he has to take responsibility for that. That’s what free speech is about.” 

Hindley was also at the center of a controversy over freedom of speech in the classroom, in 2007.

During the fall semester of that year, students in Hindley’s class approached the Politics department chair about his use of the word “wetbacks” in class. The context of his use of the word was disputed. In response to the situation, a member of the administration was sent to monitor the classroom, and Hindley was required to take sensitivity training.

The administration’s decision in this case led the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education to place Brandeis University on its Red Alert list in 2008, and FIRE named Brandeis one of the worst schools for free speech from 2010 to 2012.

FIRE is an organization that aims to protect “freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience” on college and university campuses.

Lawrence did not respond to requests for comment through the University’s Executive Director for Integrated Media William Schaller by press time.