PASSHE Students, Faculty, Staff, Alums, Managers! Please read this!

[Updated Fri 11/25 @ 8:07 am: Two things. First, I’ve made two very slight changes to the text of the letter, one of which is extending the deadline of the Chancellor to respond; that’s at the recommendation of WCU’s President Greg Weisenstein. I also added an explicit reference to free expression rights in the second paragraph, to respond to some concern that I was advocating protection for violent protests. While I certainly don’t advocate repressive police violence against anybody, neither do I advocate violent protest. Seemed like a fair way to split the difference. Second, as of now, we’re at 142 signatures and counting. That’s with my amateur canvassing effort and the goodwill of a bunch of folks who are helping spread it. However, I still need help reaching Cheyney and Mansfied (no signatures from either), ESU, Clarion, and Slippery Rock (only one from each), and from staff and managers at all campuses. Thanks!]

Folks: The letter below is adapted from a letter drafted and shared by colleague at Eastern Connecticut State U, calling on her university president to make a statement in support protest rights on their campuses. I’ve made some adaptations to it, with an eye towards making it system-wide and more inclusive for all members of the PASSHE community.

I hope people will sign onto it. If you’re willing to contribute your name, please send me a message with your name, your institution, and a department/unit you work in (or major/majored in). I intend to send the letter sometime Tuesday afternoon, so please respond quickly and share widely.


Dear Chancellor Cavanaugh:We write as faculty, staff, students, alums, and managers–as members of the PASSHE community–to express both our dismay at the repressive use of force against students at the University of California-Davis, and our strong request that you make a public statement expressing your support for campus community members’ right to protest in public spaces.We are saddened and outraged that students in US colleges and universities are being met with pepper spray when they choose, peacefully, to exercise their First Amendment rights, and just as importantly what we have  learned and taught in our classes and elsewhere on our campuses.  Those of us who grew up during or have studied the Sixties protests, or the anti-globalization protests in Seattle and Miami—as well as those who may have participated in them and others since—are reminded very uncomfortably of another time.  And we worry that our students, staff, faculty, and management may be watching the UC-Davis video (which has, by now, gone viral) and be worried about what may happen on our campuses if we choose to speak our minds.We ask, then, that by Monday, December 12, you write an open letter to our system-wide community (and maybe post it on the portal?) assuring us that we will be safe if we choose to protest on our campuses and that, rather than meeting any protests with violence, you will use them as an opportunity to engage in dialogue about our concerns. We trust your fundamental humanity and fairness; please share that with our community, so we know we can be thankful that we attend and work for universities that are places of peace and safety.

Extending you best wishes for a happy holiday season,


18 Responses to PASSHE Students, Faculty, Staff, Alums, Managers! Please read this!

  1. Deirdre Pettipiece says:

    Deirdre Pettipiece
    College of Arts and Sciences
    West Chester University of Pennsylvani

  2. Yes. Absolutely. This is an excellent opportunity for Chancellor Cavanaugh to stand up for higher education, for freedom of expression, and for the fundamental ideals of democratic representation. As I and several other faculty are currently engaged in organizing a series of teach-ins to support the value of nonviolent protest at Bloomsburg University, the Chancellor’s confirmation of our basic human rights to so organize without police harassment–much less the kind of violence that transpired at UC Davis–is essential.

    Thank you, Chancellor Cavanaugh for your commitment to the PASSHE mission of open and free exchange.

  3. […] this blog post at the request of Seth Kahn… You can reach him to add your signature at […]

  4. Gregory Seigworth says:

    You can certainly add my name to this letter. Thanks!

    Dr. Gregory J. Seigworth, Professor
    Department of Communication and Theatre
    Millersville University

    • sethkahn says:

      Thanks for signing–and for being the first Millersville person. If others are around during the break and you can, er, recommend (read: cajole without bothering) that they sign too, that would be great.

  5. sethkahn says:


    Here’s what I need help with, along with the individual signatures people are willing to provide–

    1. [Updated 9:18 pm] I have only one signature from Lock Haven, one from Clarion [and the Clarion signer is an alum, a friend of mine from graduate school!], one from ESU, and one from Cal. Nobody at all yet from Cheyney, Mansfield, or Slippery Rock. It’s not a deal-breaker if we don’t have signatures from every campus, but it sure would be good.

    2. As I’ve been following the reactions nationwide to the events at UC-Davis, and to a lesser extent at Berkeley and Baruch College, I see very few statements/petitions that include student, staff and management voices. This one does, but it’s important to keep pushing on that. As of now, about 40% of the signatures are from students/alums. There are 3 staff that I know of. And even one manager. If you can help in any of those areas, it will strengthen the case a great deal.

  6. Jill Craven says:

    Please add me to the petition. Score 2 for MU! More to come, I am sure. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Dr. Jill Craven, Professor
    Department of English
    Millersville University

  7. Seth,

    If it would help, please add me to the petition. Score 3 for MU! And like Jill, I’m sure there will be more signatures to come!

  8. Ps.:

    Dr. Carrie Lee Smith, Associate Professor
    Department of Sociology/Anthropology
    Millersville University

  9. Scott Schaffer says:

    Hi, Seth –

    I’m a former Millersville prof (2001-2007). Add me on.

    Scott Schaffer, PhD
    Associate Professor of Sociology
    The University of Western Ontario
    London, Canada

  10. sethkahn says:

    And Slippery Rock is on the board (sorry, been watching football all day). Mansfield? Cheyney? Hello?

  11. Steven M. Miller, Ph.D. says:

    Please add my name to the letter.

  12. Kate says:

    Dear Seth,

    Please update blog. I am a fan.
    an old friend

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