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NWSA Statements

EC Letter in Support of Jasbir K. Puar
September 26, 2018

We write in support of our feminist colleague and NWSA member, Jasbir K. Puar, recent recipient of the NWSA Alison Piepmeier Book Prize, which awards “a groundbreaking monograph in women, gender, and sexuality studies that makes significant contributions to feminist disability studies scholarship.” The prize committee described Puar’s monograph, The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability (Duke University Press, 2017), as marking “a paradigm shift in thinking fully about the global politics of disability and capacity,” and as “a major milestone book across multiple disciplines, with much to teach us about contemporary disability politics.” The NWSA executive committee supports Professor Puar, her scholarship, and the prize committee’s decision.

For years Puar has been the target of a vicious smear campaign seeking to defame her work. Since receiving this award she has faced renewed attacks from Zionist organizations, pundits, and others for her critiques of Israeli military practice, particularly because she highlights the practice of maiming Palestinian civilians in Gaza, not as a humanitarian alternative to killing, but as a method of control. There is no claim in The Right to Maim that has not already been widely recognized by mainstream sources, most recently The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times, and numerous human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Doctors Without Borders, all of which document the excessive maiming of Gazans during the Great March of Return this past spring. Further, The Right to Maim is not a book-length analysis of Israel/Palestine as it is commonly misrepresented. It is rather more specifically a critique of American exceptionalism with regard to Israel as it relates to human rights in general and  disability rights in particular. Finally, The Right to Maim is both empirically grounded and theoretically sophisticated, based on Puar’s work in biopolitical theory for nearly two decades. As a scholarly monograph not designed for a lay audience, it requires a careful working through of the argumentation as it is progresses through the book.  Gross mischaracterizations of The Right to Maim either derive from a failure to understand the theoretical argument Dr. Puar is making, or a deliberate effort to malign her because attackers disagree with her political stance in solidarity with the Palestine rights movement. 

In 2015, the NWSA voted in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign called for by Palestinian civil society as a non-violent response to both the denial of full citizenship rights for Palestinians living under Israeli rule and/or full self-determination for the Palestinian people in the form of a viable Palestinian state. The NWSA executive committee affirms that position today and remains firm in its conviction, grounded in history and fact, that a critique of Israel does not equal anti-Semitism. Two years ago we hosted the Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace in our conference plenary session. As a person of Jewish descent, married to an Israeli, she eloquently made the case for BDS and Palestinian rights. We understand this issue as not primarily about religion or ethnicity but justice.

We support rigorous feminist and queer scholarship that confronts controversial topics. We denounce the recent attacks on our colleague, Dr. Jasbir K. Puar, and we proudly support her right to air her views, publish her scholarship, and speak out against the injustices that she, and we, see in the world.

SIGNED by the EC with affiliations*
Barbara Ransby, President, University of Illinois - Chicago
Elora Chowdhury, Vice President, University of Massachusetts - Boston
Patti Duncan, Secretary, Oregon State University
Karma R. Chávez, Treasurer, University of Texas - Austin
(*affiliations for identification purposes only)

Statement Against Hungarian Government's Proposal to Ban Gender Studies
August 14, 2018

Dr József Bódis,
State Secretary for Education
Ministry of Human Capacities

To Whom It May Concern:
As a professional organization representing thousands of scholars in Women’s Studies throughout the United States and around the world, we are shocked and appalled by the proposed decision to “ban” an entire field of intellectual inquiry from Hungarian universities. This is an affront to academic freedom and to the open exchange of ideas. Women’s Studies researchers and teachers are distinguished and respected scholars working, teaching, and publishing in every corner of the globe. Members of our interdisciplinary field have published award-winning books, received international honors, and contributed mightily to more inclusive models of research in virtually every traditional discipline from social sciences and the humanities to the law and biological sciences.
We strongly urge the Ministry of Education in Hungary to uphold the basic tenets of academic freedom and allow our Women’s Studies colleagues in Hungary to continue to contribute to this growing body of knowledge about women, gender, sexuality, family, and identity.
We will all be watching carefully to see how this issue is resolved in Hungary. It will impact how Hungarian higher education is perceived by the world’s research and scholarly community, human rights and aid organizations, study abroad programs, and trans-national networks of students and faculty.
Barbara Ransby, President
EC Letter in Support of Rabab Abdulhadi
November 16, 2017

CSU Chancellor Tim White
SFSU President Leslie Wong
Provost Jennifer Summit
Dean Kenneth Monteiro
Dear Chancellor Tim White, President Leslie Wong, Provost Jennifer Summit and Dean Kenneth Monteiro:
Professor Rabab Abdulhadi is a highly respected feminist scholar and longtime active member of the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA). Her participation, vision and leadership has meant a lot to our scholarly community.
NWSA supports her and acknowledges the value and importance of her engaged scholarship and advocacy.
We are appalled and deeply troubled that she has been the target of so much harassment for expressing her views and standing firm in her convictions.
We stand with our distinguished colleague in these difficult times and encourage others, both institutional leaders and individuals of good conscience to do so as well.  We see no merit in the allegations that have been made against her. In the spirit of fairness, and holding to the principle of academic freedom, we urge other academics to speak out on Dr. Abdulhadi’s case as well.
Barbara Ransby, President                Elora Halim Chowdhury, Vice President
Karma Chávez, Treasurer                  Carrie Baker, Secretary
Vivian M. May, Past President

Statement of Solidarity with Puerto Rico

November 13, 2017

In September the island of Puerto Rico, and other parts of the Caribbean, were hit with a devastating hurricane. Since then the lack of an aggressive response has created a humanitarian disaster for the 3.4 million US citizens in Puerto Rico.  As feminist scholars we lend our voices to those expressing outrage at the continued neglect of our neighbors and fellow citizens in Puerto Rico, and we are in solidarity with those, including some National Women's Studies Association members, who will be marching in Washington, DC on Sunday, November 19th as we conclude our 2017 annual conference in nearby Baltimore.

In October Oxfam expressed “outrage at the slow and inadequate response the US Government has mounted in Puerto Rico. Clean water, food, fuel, electricity, and health care are in desperately short supply and quickly dwindling.”  The Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmen Yulín Cruz, pleaded for aid, insisting, “ Without robust and consistent help we will die.” Women have been hard hit by the crisis. As one of our colleagues in the Colectiva Feminista en Construcción, a grassroots feminist organization in Puerto Rico, wrote to us last month: “After the hurricane María, the situation in the country has been very critical and has become even more precarious for those already vulnerable. . . . Gender-based violence is increasing rapidly. These desperate times are aggravating households and communities. Women are being harassed on the streets while waiting in lines to buy gasoline or food, others fear being raped in temporary shelters, while still taking care of children and old-aged parents/neighbors. Our infrastructure has collapsed. Women that are trying to get restraining orders are being sent back to their homes since the investigation rooms and courts are closed.”

In 2014 NWSA held one of its largest conferences to date in Puerto Rico. We were welcomed warmly by our colleagues there and were inspired by the vibrant feminist political and intellectual community in San Juan. Therefore it is with special sadness that we have watched this disaster unfold over the past two months. The fact that this is a Spanish-speaking island of primarily people of color suggests that racist and colonial politics are implicated in this failed response and in the ongoing disregard shown by those in power toward the suffering and survival needs of the Puerto Rican people.

EC Letter in Support of Fawzia Afzal-Khan

August 24, 2017
Susan A. Cole, President
Robert S. Friedman, Dean
Montclair State University
1 Normal Avenue
Montclair, NJ 07043
Dear President Cole and Dean Friedman:
As an organization of over 2,000 feminist scholars representing faculty members at Women’s studies departments around the country we write to express our outrage at the blatantly unfair treatment of our distinguished colleague, Prof. Fawzia Afzal-Khan.
Prof Afzal-Khan was apparently stripped of her administrative position because of the actions of others. What could be more unjust. It is our understanding that Montclair State University holds a commitment to diversity and presumably due process for its faculty and staff. To be appointed to a position and then summarily dismissed without cause is the epitome of professional insult.  To publicly humiliate such a prominent and accomplished woman of color on your faculty leaves us speechless. Of course legally administrators can take such actions. However, we ask our institutional leaders to hold themselves to a higher ethical standard than simply what is legal. The perception of this action without explanation leaves the academic community to question the motives and values of the Montclair State University administration.
At a time when neo-Nazis have marched across the campus of one of our great southern universities, and Black faculty members (at UVA and Trinity College) have received death threats for simply making controversial political statements, the stance taken by our university leaders on both academic freedom and its commitment to diversity have never been more important.
We stand with and support Prof. Afzal-Khan. She is a highly respected senior scholar in the field of Women’s Studies and we think she is eminently qualified to lead the Women’s Studies Department at Montclair State University. Apparently the administration agreed in appointing her to that post. To remove her without cause gives the distinct impression that she is being punished professionally for what the administration has deemed are the poor decisions of others. To mete out this kind of treatment to an outstanding faculty member of color because she was simply in the vicinity of someone else’s bad choices reads to us as if she is being treated like collateral damage in the university’s effort to polish its image in the matter of Mr. Allred. The abrupt dismissal of Prof. Afzal-Khan from her leadership post has had the exact opposite effect.
We call upon the dean of the college and the president of the university to reconsider its decision, reinstate Prof. Afzal-Khan and clarify any questions about the integrity of these actions.
Barbara Ransby, President
Elora Halim Chowdhury, Vice President
Karma Chávez, Treasurer
Carrie Baker, Secretary
Vivian M. May, Past President


EC Letter on Charlottesville, August 18, 2017
August 18, 2017

The National Women's Studies Association denounces the actions of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend that terrorized that community and shocked the entire country. We further condemn the actions of James Alex Fields, Jr., who drove into a crowd of counter-protesters killing 32-year old Heather Heyer and injuring at least 19 others, and the stick-wielding vigilantes that viciously attacked and beat a young Black man, De’Andre Harris in a nearby parking structure.  We also condemn threats made against local synagogues, and the use of Nazi-era slogans such as "blood and soil" and "Jews will not replace us" at these protests.

White supremacy and fascism have always been intricately connected with misogyny, patriarchy, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, anti-Semitism, and settler-colonial logics. This fact is evidenced both by the make up of those who rallied last weekend—primarily young, white, able-bodied, cisgender men—and the messages promoted at the rally and by those supporting it, which included anti-woman and anti-LGBT slogans and statements. The NWSA believes that ending white supremacy is a primary feminist political objective. The Combahee River Collective, whose 40th anniversary we will honor at our annual conference in November, wrote in their famous Black Feminist Statement in 1977: “we are actively committed to struggling against racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppression and see as our particular task the development of an integrated analysis and practice based upon the fact that the major systems of oppression are interlocking.” That commitment remains just as vital today.
We praise cities such as Baltimore, where our convention will be held this year, for tearing down statues honoring leaders of the confederacy as an important symbolic gesture to denounce white supremacist monuments in the United States that pay homage to pro-slavery ideas and the defenders of slavery. However, symbolic gestures are not enough. The present legacy of white supremacy and the Confederate and U.S. commitment to the system of chattel slavery remains alive and well in the existence of the prison industrial complex. The 13th amendment of the U.S. constitution essentially allows legal slavery inside prisons. Those prisons are predominately populated by African Americans and other people of color, and a steady increase in the number of incarcerated women. Without material steps to end that system, white supremacy and the misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, anti-Semitism, class exploitation, and settler-colonial logics it engenders will continue. The NWSA sends condolences to the families and communities of the most recent victims of white supremacist violence in Charlottesville and affirms its commitment to feminist values that see the end to white supremacy as a top priority.
We know that white supremacists seek to instill fear and leverage power using harassment, violence, and the threat of violence.  We encourage NWSA members to join together and raise their voices in the wake of these threats even as we recognize that some of our members face greater risk than others in speaking out.  We know that intersectional feminist analyses offer the frameworks our campuses and communities need to challenge white supremacist ideologies. We applaud our colleagues at University of Virginia and their courageous students who spoke truth in the face of violence when a hateful mob of fascists marched through their campus bearing torches, shouting Nazi slogans and attacking students.
We know that our members embrace our mission to promote a more just world in which all persons can develop to their fullest potential—one free from racist ideologies, systems of privilege or structures that oppress or exploit some for the advantage of others.  Now more than ever we need to recommit ourselves to this vision and engage in meaningful actions that can advance our goals. 

Barbara Ransby, President
Elora Halim Chowdhury, Vice President
Karma Chávez, Treasurer
Carrie Baker, Secretary
Vivian M. May, Past President

EC Letter in Support of Academic Freedom

Leslie E. Wong, President
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA  94132
December 22, 2016
Dear President Wong:
As members of the National Women’s Studies Association’s Executive Committee, we write to express our deep concern about the documented harassment that our colleague and member, Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, has experienced on your campus. It is our understanding that this campaign of harassment has included racist and Islamophobic posters accusing Professor Abdulhadi of terrorism and anti-Semitism, accusations that she has misused university funds, and other slanderous allegations.  It appears this campaign of harassment is because of Professor Abdulhadi’s stature as a public intellectual and her outspoken expression of her views, which she has every right to express. We write on behalf of a professional organization that includes many members who are faculty, graduate students or alumni of your institution.
NWSA’s executive committee wants to underscore its support for academic freedom, a principle that we are sure you share. To make this commitment real it is important that we create a climate on our campuses that encourages rather than silences dissenting views. Academic freedom can be undermined as much by what academic leaders fail to do, as what they actively seek to guarantee. A robust defense of academic freedom is about creating a climate in our classrooms, the public corridors of our campuses, and within our professional organizations so that we may all speak and debate free of intimidation and harassment. This is fundamental to scholarly inquiry.
Higher education can and should serve as a model for how to navigate contentious issues and address complex questions, but only if faculty members can be fully assured of their academic freedom being protected and supported. This essential principle is core to our members’ work as feminist scholars and intellectuals, and to every member of a vigorous democracy. As an institutional leader of a campus with a long history of activism and a reputation for hosting a diverse faculty with a range of views and scholarly interests, we respectfully request that you do all within your power to protect and defend Dr. Abdulhadi’s right of expression and her academic freedom. We would very much appreciate the courtesy of a reply to this open letter. Thank you in advance.
Barbara Ransby, President          Elora Halim Chowdhury, Vice President
Karma Chávez, Treasurer          Carrie Baker, Secretary
Vivian M. May, Past President

EC Letter in Support of Academics in/from Turkey

December 21, 2016
Dear Colleagues:
As members of the Executive Committee of the National Women’s Studies Association, we write to express our deep concern over the alarming, ongoing, and unprecedented attacks on academics in/from Turkey.
Concerns about academic freedom have been mounting over the last year as academics in/from Turkey have been retaliated against by the government for signing a petition. The “peace petition,” as it was colloquially called, called for resuming recently halted peace negotiations between the Turkish state and the Kurdish guerilla organization, the PKK. The petition included over two thousand signatories, including internationally renowned feminist scholars. In January 2016, the Turkish president called the signatories “traitors,” which ignited a witch-hunt, including publishing the names and photos of signatories, marking signatories’ office doors with red paint crosses, widespread institutional disciplinary investigations, suspensions, dismissals, and blacklistings, a mass criminal prosecution of all signatories with accusations of “terrorist propaganda,” house raids, detentions, and arrests.
Attacks on academics have escalated alarmingly in the context of the government’s increasing authoritarianism under emergency rule, declared after the coup attempt in July 2016. For instance, the government has demanded that all university deans and presidents resign, transferred the authority to appoint university presidents directly to Turkey’s president, cancelled faculty elections, closed various private universities and schools, suspended or dismissed tens of thousands of academics and teachers, and restricted academics’ international travel. The scale of targeted individuals and institutions is distressing. Freedom of expression has been gravely undermined, with hundreds of media outlets banned, more than 130 journalists in prison, hundreds of civil society organizations closed, and parliamentarians from opposing parties arrested. Feminists and LGBTIQ activists are alarmed about the deteriorating political climate and the increased vulnerabilities posed for women and gender nonconforming individuals. 
The National Women’s Studies Association condemns these attacks on academic freedom and autonomy and calls for solidarity with academics in/from Turkey.
Barbara Ransby, President
Elora Halim Chowdhury, Vice President
Karma Chávez, Treasurer
Carrie Baker, Secretary
Vivian M. May, Past President

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November 28, 2016

The National Women’s Studies Association Statement on Combatting the Climate of Fear, Division and Xenophobia in the Wake of the U.S. Presidential Election
The National Women’s Studies Association met in Montreal, Canada in the immediate wake of the November 8, 2016 U.S. presidential election, and many of us were shaken by the results. As transnational, indigenous, intersectional and anti-racist feminist scholars, and practitioners, and scholars of conscience, we feel compelled to speak out about the implications of this political moment for the work we do and the communities of which we are a part. Throughout this election season, and in the weeks since November 8th, women and girls, LGBTQIA people, poor and working people, Muslims and Arab-Americans, Jews, Black people, indigenous people, Mexicans, Latinx, immigrant communities, and people with disabilities have been threatened and maligned. Racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, homophobic, ablest, transphobic and misogynist views have been rampant in the public sphere, sparking instances of harassment, intimidation, and assault. Women have been insulted and mocked, sexual assault has been trivialized, and Black communities have been disparaged and maligned. Millions of undocumented residents fear unjust deportations. And climate change denial places the future of the entire planet at risk.
We recognize that none of us are entirely safe. Intellectuals and teachers have been, and continue to be, the victims of authoritarian regimes around the world and over time. Although critical thinking and transgressive pedagogy are often perceived as dangerous to certain political agendas, NWSA embraces these features of our work and calls on members to use our collective energies to push back against the climate of fear, xenophobia and anti-intellectualism that have become so prevalent. We must do what we do best which is to provide alternative ways of thinking, expose myths and lies through our research and writing, engage a broader public, and insist upon critical and dissident inquiry that interrogate unsubstantiated claims, and build bridges of unity and understanding. In our ongoing efforts to democratize and decolonize colleges, universities and academic scholarship, we must teach to the urgency of the moment, and in doing so reach out beyond our campuses and beyond national borders.
We encourage our NWSA members to stand with, defend and provide sanctuary for our students and colleagues who are most vulnerable. In these challenging times we must embrace and reclaim the activist roots that carved out a place for women’s and gender studies and other interdisciplinary, critical areas of study within the Academy over forty years ago. In addition to recognizing the continued importance of the rigorous and clarifying scholarship that has been the hallmark of NWSA members, we also encourage members to organize teach-ins and vigils, and to explore ever more creative forms of learning, sharing, and mobilizing. Speak out loudly and consistently through letters, petitions and collective statements. We cannot accept the skewed argument that it is not our place, or it is somehow unprofessional, to speak out. On the contrary, speak out we must. It is our ethical obligation to do so. And in doing so we are inspired and empowered by our collective effort.
NWSA has more than 2,000 individual and 350 institutional members working in varied specialties across the United States and around the world. Through scholarship, pedagogy and praxis our members actively pursue knowledge to promote a just world in which all persons can develop to their fullest potential—one free from ideologies, systems of privilege or structures that oppress or exploit some for the advantage of others. It is with this mission in mind that we call upon our NWSA membership to be vocal, to be courageous, to be bold, to be visible and to be engaged with each other and with a larger public in this critical time. Despite our trepidations about the future, we are bolstered by the creative, generative, humane and principled stances and actions many have already taken. We stand with and remain supportive of our members in the work that lies ahead.

EC Letter in Support of Academic Freedom

John Ettling, President
State University of New York -- Plattsburgh
101 Broad Street
Plattsburgh, NY  12901
September 28, 2016
Dear Dr. Ettling:
As members of the National Women’s Studies Association’s Executive Committee, we were disheartened to hear about the harassment Professor Simona Sharoni has experienced on social media, email, voicemail, and through Freedom of Information Under the Law requests in response to her scholarly work and commitments.
NWSA’s executive committee wants to underscore its support for academic freedom and highlight the need to embrace difficult dialogues and dissent in the academy and wider society. Our members actively pursue a just world in which all persons can develop to their fullest potential: such a pursuit, however, requires robust support of academic freedom. We therefore write to express our collective concern about any efforts to undermine academic freedom, which is fundamental to scholarly inquiry.
Higher education can and should serve as a model for how to navigate contentious issues and address complex questions, but only if faculty members can be fully assured of their academic freedom being protected and supported. This essential principle is core to our members’ work as feminist scholars and intellectuals, and to every member of a vigorous democracy.  
Vivian M. May, President
Nana Osei-Kofi, Vice President
Diane Harriford, Treasurer
Carrie Baker, Secretary

EC Letter on Pulse Nightclub Attack

June 22, 2016

Dear NWSA members,
As members of the Executive Committee, we write to express our collective outrage over the attack at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub during its Latinx-themed night. We recognize this heinous act for the hate crime it is against LGBTQ people, people of color, and those who live at the intersection of these communities. In this difficult time, we urge our community of scholars, educators, and activists to draw on the insights of feminist/anti-racist/queer activists and thinkers to address hatred and violence, imagine alternatives to domination, and foster community.
We draw on an intersectional political framework to call for the collective liberation of all. Given that systemic racism, misogyny, ableism, colonialism, and homophobia are deeply interconnected, we condemn the Islamophobia that has emerged in the wake of the attack and urge you, our members, to find ways to contest the widespread culture of violence that surrounds us, including histories of violence against queer and trans people of color. This culture of domination is local and global, intimate and structural, and is pervasive. It includes: harassment and discrimination; gender violence, rape culture, and murder; the criminalization of divergent lives/bodies/loves and the violence of the carceral state; silencing, dispossession, and erasure; eugenic and genocidal practices; colonial gendered violence against Indigenous people; and militarization and war.
Diverse forms of brutality must be understood as distinct and yet interconnected. It is essential to think through how the Pulse nightclub shooting, the church shootings in Charleston, the murder of Indigenous women in Canada, and the murder of transgender sex workers in Brazil and elsewhere are interrelated without collapsing the important differences in each of these, and many other, contexts. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but one that should highlight the role we all can play in refusing and resisting a culture of violence wherever we find it.
In this time of mourning and remembrance, we call on you, our NWSA members, to confront domination, intolerance, and hatred—in the intimacies of everyday life and on a wider, macro-political scale. We also underscore the importance of supporting each other and being mindful of the impact of myriad violences on ourselves, each other, our students, and our scholarship. Though the work at hand may be difficult, our collective labors to understand how systems of oppression are interlaced and must be thought through and addressed together are pivotal and deeply relevant.

Vivian M. May, President
Nana Osei-Kofi, Vice President
Diane Harriford, Treasurer
Carrie Baker, Secretary

Contingent Faculty Solidarity Statement

February 9, 2016

As the largest feminist academic organization in North America, the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) is dedicated to leading the transformative and critical field of Women’s Studies. Our members recognize that systems of oppression are interlaced and take seriously the material conditions of knowledge production, labor commodification, workforce stratification, and structural inequities in educational practices.
The NWSA urgently calls for wider recognition of growing inequality in academic labor practices, and, in particular, the rising number of contingent faculty.[1] Contingent faculty colleagues often face heavy teaching loads, commute between multiple positions, and lack basic support in the academy. Such disparities have adverse effects on higher education more broadly. Given their critical role in higher education, contingent faculty need fair wages and benefits, professional development opportunities, structural and contractual protections for academic freedom, and due process protections.
The NWSA also underscores that the devaluation of academic labor, wage inequities, and disparities in hiring practices has been longstanding in the academy and connects to wider material and political contexts. Race, sexuality, social class, age, disability, gender, and citizenship are all factors that impact contingent employment. Comprehensive data on contingent faculty in the U.S. is unfortunately limited as the Department of Education’s National Study of Postsecondary Faculty ceased in 2003, and nothing comparable has replaced it. Thus the NWSA calls on the Department of Education to reinstate this critical survey in order to make the issues surrounding contingency more transparent.
As feminist scholars, educators, and activists, our members actively pursue a just world in which all persons can develop to their fullest potential. Given our deep commitments to an inclusive feminist vision and to contesting and dismantling multiple systems of domination, the NWSA is in solidarity with contingent faculty colleagues and issues this call for wider recognition of labor stratification and structural inequities in higher education employment practices. We are steadfast in our commitment to eradicating injustice and to fostering educational opportunities for all.
[1] The AAUP reports that more than 50% of today's total professoriate (across institutional types) is contingent and non-tenure-track positions account for 75% of instructional appointments in U.S. Higher Education. The MLA Academic Workforce Data Center reports that the number of part-time faculty went from 379,700 in 1995 to 757,700 in 2011; in comparison, there were 393,500 tenured and tenure-track faculty in 1995 and 430,600 of the same in 2011. In addition, a June 2012 survey by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce [CAW] found that more than 60 percent of respondents who provided information about their gender were women, compared with 51.6 percent of faculty nationally. While nearly 90 percent of contingent faculty who responded to the CAW survey were white, the survey found that respondents who identified as black earned 25 percent less per course than those who identified as white.

Solidarity Statement

January 19, 2015

The National Women’s Studies Association releases this statement:

  • In light of endemic racialized state and extrajudicial violence within the U.S. and at its borders;
  • Following on the 2014 NWSA conference in Puerto Rico, an occupied territory where sovereignty struggles continue; and
  • Following on the conference plenary on Palestine,[1] wherein there was a strong show of support by a majority of more than 1,000 plenary attendees for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, and for including injustices in Palestine among the issues we study and teach about.
As the largest feminist academic organization in North America, NWSA is dedicated to leading Women’s and Gender Studies, a transformative and critical field animated by the recognition that systems of oppression are interlaced and must be thought through and addressed together. Our members actively pursue a just world in which all persons can develop to their fullest potential: as feminist scholars, educators, and activists, for example, we advance critiques of misogyny, gender violence, settler colonialism, homophobia, Islamophobia, ableism, classism, and all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism and anti-Arab racism.
NWSA members have long challenged multiple forms of oppression and violence, including racialized state violence and sexual and gender-based violence, that disproportionately impact disenfranchised groups and communities within the U.S. and transnationally. NWSA members have also long been committed to solidarity politics as a means to contest and dismantle multiple systems of domination. NWSA is thus committed to an inclusive feminist vision that is in solidarity with Indigenous peoples and sovereignty rights globally, that challenges settler colonial practices, and that contests violations of civil rights and international human rights law, military occupation and militarization, including the criminalization of the U.S. borders, and myriad forms of dispossession.
As an organization that seeks to promote scholarly exchange, research and teaching collaborations, and educational opportunities for all, NWSA issues this solidarity statement. In so doing, we distinguish between institutional critiques and critiques of individuals working within those institutional contexts. Furthermore, we acknowledge Israeli and Jewish scholars and students who are critical of Israeli state policies that systematically discriminate against Palestinians and that violate international law. Finally, NWSA recognizes that systemic forces continue to negatively impact Palestinians’ political and human rights and educational opportunities and that the U.S. plays a significant role in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the expansion of settlements and the Wall.
Given our longstanding commitments to eradicating injustice as feminist scholars, educators, and activists, and in recognition of resonances and connections across borders and contexts, NWSA reiterates its support of academic freedom, political dissent, and the pursuit of education and research without undue state interference or repression.
[1]“The Imperial Politics of Nation States.” NWSA Annual Conference, San Juan, Puerto Rico: Saturday, November 15, 2014. Featuring Angela Davis, Islah Jad, and Rebecca Vilkomerson with Chandra Talpade Mohanty as chair/moderator. The idea of a solidarity statement was also raised at the Membership and Delegate Assemblies and subsequently discussed by the Governing Council and the Executive Committee (which, in response, worked collaboratively to issue this statement).

Statement on Campus Safety Issues for Women, Particularly Women of Color

October 6, 2014

Dear Colleagues:

Since the news broke about the Arizona State University police stopping Professor Ersula Jawanna Ore, Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition, crossing (supposedly “jaywalking”) the street with excessive force and arrested her on May 20th, many of us have expressed concern, petitioned on behalf of Professor Ore, and followed closely the unfolding of what seemed a serious case of campus safety issue for women and particularly women of color. The NWSA Executive Committee wants to express its collective concern about these issues as well, and I write on their behalf.

At the same time, less known to most of us and related to the campus safety issue as seen in Professor Ore’s case, we learn that Professor Kimberly Williams, Instructor of Sociology at Coastal Carolina Community College, North Carolina, has had to go to court, battling for her own safety, against an angry student who brought a noose to campus days after publicly slandering Professor Williams and Black people.

Immediately following Professor Ore’s arrest, ASU’s initial investigation found that the police had acted appropriately (and ASU has since issued another statement about seeking independent investigation of the case); and in Professor Williams’s case, she received no protection from the institution, and the administration seemed more concerned with not “pleasing” one student.

We wish to express our utmost concern. As an association, we pride ourselves on the fact that “our members actively pursue a just world,” through activist and scholarly engagement, “in which all persons can develop to fullest potential – one free from ideologies, systems of privilege or structures that oppress or exploit some for the advantage of others.” We deplore the police brutality in Professor Ore’s case, caught on dash cam video, and Professor Williams being left with no protection, in spite of the appeal to the college administration from her students and colleagues. While we mention two cases that emerged in May 2014, this letter concerns broadly safety for women on campuses across the nation. To help us gage our membership at their institutions, we would like to hear from you about issues related to safety in academia: by November 1, 2014. NWSA’s Governing Council will review the responses at its November 2014 meeting in Puerto Rico.

We look forward to hearing from you, and seeing you at our 2014 conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Yi-Chun Tricia Lin
NWSA President, 2012-2014
Professor of Women’s Studies
Southern Connecticut State University

Statement on University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Actions Against Professor Steven Salaita

October 6, 2014

Office of the Chancellor
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
601 E. John St.
Champaign, IL 61820

Dear Dr. Wise:

We write on behalf of the Executive Committee of the National Women's Studies Association to join the public protests over your decision to revoke Professor Steven Salaita’s job offer in the Department of American Indian Studies at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

Professor Salaita was offered the position at UIUC in October 2013. By rescinding the offer in mid-August 2014, after Dr. Salaita had resigned from his tenured position at Virginia Tech, the UIUC administration violated the tenets of faculty governance. Even more troubling, however, is the connection, as reported, between Dr. Salaita’s opposition to the Israeli invasion of Gaza via Twitter and the sudden withdrawal of the job offer.

NWSA’s executive committee wants to underscore its support for academic freedom and highlight the need to embrace difficult dialogues and dissent. These principles are core to our members’ work as feminist scholars and intellectuals, and to every member of a healthy democracy. Higher education can and should serve as a model for how to navigate contentious issues, but only if faculty members can be assured of their rights to free speech.

We echo our colleagues and fellow associations who have called on you and urge that you restore Professor Salaita’s position as a tenured associate professor in the Department of American Indian Studies at UIUC.


Yi-Chun Tricia Lin
NWSA President, 2012-2014
Professor of Women’s Studies
Southern Connecticut State University

Allison Kimmich
Executive Director