My Case Goes to Trial

Today, March 26 at 9:00 a.m., will be the first hearing in which I am appealing my expulsion from the university. When everything is concluded -for good or for bad- I’ll recount in detail everything that has happened. I haven’t done so yet because many of my friends think that I might bury myself deeper, and I believe that they’re partially right.

I had been a tenured professor at the University of Applied Sciences and Technology (better known as InSTEC), where I taught various courses related to philosophy – until they kicked me out

In November of last year, I began meeting once a week with a group of students and university professors on the lawn of my institution. There, we mainly discussed topics on the history of the political left.

At first we meet like this informally, but later got the idea to present it as a project to the Department of Social Sciences, whose energetic head approved the idea. I knew that the matter would raise eyebrows, since it was so unusual in a setting like this; only Communist Party-affiliated groups organize initiatives to openly discuss political topics. However, it not only raised eyebrows, but holy hell as well, as a shock wave spread out across the campus.

I was accused of many things, including that I was counterrevolutionary, which is the absolute worst one can be charged of. Nonetheless, this was leveled against me without a minimum shred of proof.

Finally, they tossed me out for not fulfilling -so they said- the study program, though it’s difficult for me to fathom how they reached that conclusion when all my evaluations as a teacher had been good.

The “evidence” that they had in hand were testimonies by my students made to a committee of professors confirming my inability to parrot the mottos that these academics believe are the ABC’s of Marxism, mottos that of course I never required the students to memorize in such a mechanical and anti-philosophical manner.

They also have as proof of my non-fulfillment of the program, a group of ten classes that I drew up with the objective of making philosophy more accessible; I had aimed to revolve it around epistemology and alienation. Those classes were held in the library, in the plain view of everyone, since I presented them there while in the course of developing them, one by one. These sought to embrace a part of the study program, though of course not in a traditional way.

No one called my attention to these lessons before, but now I’m suddenly on the outside for presenting them, and without the benefit of any intermediate measure.

An expert, another university professor who collaborated in bringing the accusation against me, stated in the previous labor hearing that the classes in question were “right wing,” and that the staff of a leftist university had all the legal authority in the world to demand that the classes of their professors be to the left.

If I had to classify my classes based on this approach, clearly I would put them on the left, assuming that this means they fight against ignorance, colonialism and alienation; and for this, when this case came up, I tried to lean on Marx, who to me is a splendid example of a warrior on the side of these causes.

I will try to somehow post these classes on the Internet, so that they can be read and judged personally by those interested in this matter.

I know nothing of legal procedures, but I believe that it’s logical that if I present myself as the plaintiff, I cannot end up being accused. I say this because some people have already warned me, “for my own good,” against appealing the decision of the administrative hearing and taking the matter to municipal court. They believe the action could backfire against me, making it impossible to ever work as a university professor again.

Tomorrow I imagine that I will have more news.

Erasmo Calzadilla

Erasmo Calzadilla: I find it difficult to introduce myself in public. I've tried many times but it doesn’t flow. I’m more less how I appear in my posts, add some unpresentable qualities and stir; that should do for a first approach. If you want to dig a little deeper, ask me for an appointment and wait for a reply.



10 thoughts on “My Case Goes to Trial

  • Con su respeto:
    Creo que realmente sus clases no enseñaron nada de lo que consta la filosofía universal. En cualquier lugar las bases filosóficas son las mismas y esas precisamente son las que usted no enseña jamás. Esto además de las muchas clases que debía dar y dio a penas un cuarenta por ciento. El error del instec radica en no haberse dado cuenta antes de su incapacidad para enseñar. Simplemente enseñó lo que le convino a usted, sin seguir absolutamente ningún programa. ¿Qué mas pruebas necesita que la incapacidad de sus estudiantes para responder preguntas tan elementales como: “qué estudia la filosofía”? Desde afuera le podrán creer sus tergiversaciones pero desde aquí es imposible.

    Reply
  • Erasmo, thank you for having the courage to share this miscarriage of justice with the outside world. The story of your firing as a tenured professor provides a rare glimpse into a totalitarian society that brooks no dissent.

    Reply
  • Erasmo

    No creo que tendras exito ninguna en cambiarles la idea sobre ti.
    Una vez que eres catalogado de esa forma no hay manera de retornar.

    Estoy seguro que todo fue injusto de tu punto de vista y probablemente es injusto pero desafortunadamente para ti no hay manera de arreglarlo.

    Erasmo
    I do not believe that you will be successful in changing the idea the have about you
    Once you have been typecast as counter revolutionary that is the point of no return.

    I am sure everything was very unjust from your point of view and probably is unjust but unfortunately for you there is no way to fix it.

    Reply
  • Erasmo: Quisiera saber cuáles corrientes y autores de los que trataste fueron considerados como “de derecha”. Sucede que muchas veces una nueva corriente dentro de un dogma puede ser evaluado, más bien por ignorancia y desconocimiento, como contracorriente y, en este y otros casos ya documentados, contrarrevolución. “Desde adentro” manifestó una ausencia a clases y una incomprensión de los temas básicos de filosofía, me pregunto por qué si tiene tanta valentía para tales acusaciones no aporta la misma dando su nombre y fuentes. Espero personalmente la publicación de las clases, no para juzgar sino para compartir lecturas, autores, opiniones. Deberíamos tener contacto con sus alumnos, quienes deben haber sacado de esas clases reflexiones y apuntes que mucho se estimarían por acá. Le pido que, en la medida de lo posible, los invite también a ellos a este espacio. En cuanto a su caso mucho ánimo, estaremos al tanto. Un saludo desde México, Peniley

    Reply
  • Havana Times readers might be interested in knowing what academic tenure means at Canadian and US universities. Wikipedia provides a decent explanation:

    “Academic tenure is primarily intended to guarantee the right to academic freedom: it protects teachers and researchers when they dissent from prevailing opinion, openly disagree with authorities of any sort, or spend time on unfashionable topics. Thus academic tenure is similar to the lifetime tenure that protects some judges from external pressure. Without job security, the scholarly community as a whole might favor “safe” lines of inquiry. Tenure makes original ideas more likely to arise, by giving scholars the intellectual autonomy to investigate the problems and solutions about which they are most passionate, and to report their honest conclusions.”

    Contrast this with what happened to Erasmo.

    Reply
  • Erasmo.

    Every corporation in the US has a party line. The president and executives in each corporation reward those who follow and support them and fire those who don’t.

    ¿ Is this fair? According to each President and his executives the answer is… ¡YES!

    Ahora tango ochenta años. I have learned that I can have private thoughts. Exemplo mi gusta la filosofía de Tibetan Buddhism, pero en mi esposas Roman Catholic Church no no hablo sobre de filosofía de Tibetan Buddhism.

    Robert

    Reply
  • Posted by Robert Cowdery:
    “Every corporation in the US has a party line. The president and executives in each corporation reward those who follow and support them and fire those who don’t.”

    Robert, you’re just plain wrong. Every election law I’m aware of makes it illegal for any employer to seek to influence the vote of their employees. An example from the California Election Code:
    “18542. Every employer, whether a corporation or natural person, or
    any other person who employs, is guilty of a misdemeanor if, in
    paying his or her employees the salary or wages due them, encloses
    their pay in pay envelopes upon which or in which there is written or
    printed the name of any candidate or any political mottoes, devices,
    or arguments containing threats, express or implied, intended or
    calculated to influence the political opinions or actions of the
    employees.”
    http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=elec&group=18001-19000&file=18540-18548

    Reply
  • Creo que en mi comentario anterior le di una especial importancia a la palabra respeto. Basándome en esto di mi opinión sobre algo que me toco muy de cerca, las clases que se impartieron. Al opinar algo muy importante es saber realmente de lo que se esta hablando, yo se bien como fueron esas conferencias. Precisamente por eso, puedo con toda confianza decir lo que pienso de unas clases que aunque no improductivas, porque de cualquier persona se puede incorporar nuevas experiencias, no se dirigieron a los puntos esenciales de un programa. Al final de esto los perjudicados fueron los estudiantes que no conocían los elementos fundamentales de la asignatura.
    En cualquier ocupación, en cualquier lugar, a un individuo lo emplean y le explican para que fue contratado. Con una misión a cumplir en su trabajo, el trabajador comienza su tarea. Evidentemente si no cumple con su rol debería ser expulsado.
    Dejar claro que una opinión bien justificada debe ser admirada. No pasa de ser una entre muchas otras, pero es lo que pienso.

    Reply
  • Significa eso que fuiste alumno de Erasmo? Un profesor universitario no es como cualquier empleado, y más un profesor de filosofía. Qué fue lo que te disgustó? Que no te dieron las cosas masticaditas para repetirlas en la prueba? O que te enseñaron a pensar y eso da dolor de cabeza?
    Una curiosidad: Simone de Beauvoir en su autobiografía (creo que es en La force das choses) cuenta que Sartre, en sus tiempos de profesor de liceo, hacía cambios al programa, como aquella vez tuvo delante una clase de “tozudos campesinos”, naturalmente pragmáticos, y decidió empezar con una andanada de filosofías idealistas. Luego estos aprendieron tan bien a pensar que pasaban el tiempo contraponiendo los argumentos iniciales cuando Sartre enseñaba las materialistas. Por supuesto, nadie lo expulsó de su puesto de profesor.

    Reply

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