January 18, 2018

To:

Robert Zimmer, President

Daniel Diermeier, Provost

The University of Chicago

Dear President Zimmer and Provost Diermeier,

As faculty and others representing the breadth of the University’s intellectual community and committed to critical and rigorous intellectual exchange, we are deeply concerned that Stephen Bannon, the founding member and executive chairman of the board of Breitbart News and former Chief Strategist to President Donald J. Trump, has been invited to speak at the University of Chicago. Bannon traffics in hate speech, promoting white supremacist ideologies meant to demean and dehumanize those most marginalized, often people of color. His presence on campus sends a chilling message not only to students, staff and faculty at the University, but also to the young people who attend the University of Chicago Charter School and Laboratory School and to the primarily black neighbors who surround the university. Specifically, when speakers who question the intellect and full humanity of people of color are invited to campus to “debate” their worthiness as citizens and people, the message is clear that the University’s commitment to freedom of expression will come at the expense of those most vulnerable in our community. We, therefore, believe that having Bannon on campus stands in fundamental opposition to the diverse and inclusive community the University professes to want to build.

Over the past couple of years, the University has made clear its commitment to free speech and has positioned itself as a national leader in defending freedom of expression. As academics, we understand that our work is only possible in a context where intellectual inquiry is afforded the space and freedom to push the boundaries of knowledge. At the same time, we believe that our mission of setting global standards for excellence in research and teaching is only possible in an environment where every member of our community is valued and hate speech that is meant to undermine their full participation is not tolerated.

The defense of freedom of expression cannot be taken to mean that white supremacy, anti-semitism, misogyny, homophobia, anti-Catholicism, and islamophobia must be afforded the rights and opportunity to be aired on a university campus. Bannon’s positions as articulated in Breitbart News and the policies he helped to promote during his tenure at the White House do not open opportunities for debate and exchange; they diminish such opportunities. These positions represent neither reasonable speech nor evidence-based and rigorous intellectual inquiry. He is cited as the most consequential proponent of a recent ban on immigration, which is currently embroiled in legal challenges for its discriminatory targeting of majority Muslim countries. He has unabashedly advocated for more general restrictions of historically legal forms of immigration, in ways inconsistent with generally accepted ideals of openness embraced here on campus. Moreover, he is a founding board member of and, until very recently, had been an executive at the media company Breitbart, espousing the most detestable facets of the so-called “alt-right” movement, including a blatantly racist “news” section explicitly devoted to associating black people with crime.

Our decisions about who we provide access and opportunity to speak on campus cannot be separated from the our country’s extensive historical legacies of oppression and inequality in which the University of Chicago is deeply embedded. In the current social and political climate of the country--in which the rights and safety of immigrant, black, Muslim, and LGBTQ communities are routinely threatened--the hate speech represented in Bannon's body of work are not the insignificant musings of a fringe political group, but rather the governing philosophy of the chief executive and a newly emboldened political movement based on white supremacy and religious intolerance. Rather than normalizing hate speech by granting it a privileged forum, the university should model inclusion for a country that is reeling from the consequences of racism, xenophobia, and hate.

As a University we must do the difficult work of collectively judging how we enact our espoused principles and adjudicating between principles that point us in different directions. We believe that Bannon should not be afforded the platform and opportunity to air his hate speech on this campus. Moreover, we believe his presence will have deleterious consequences on our ability to build a diverse and inclusive intellectual community--a principle that is also central to the University’s mission.

If you are a faculty member at the University of Chicago and would like to add your signature to this letter, please send an email to nobannonatuchicago@gmail.com. Please use your university email so we can confirm your identity, and include your title and affiliation. Signatures will be added daily.

Signed (in alphabetical order),

Abena Appah-Sampong, MD Candidate, Pritzker School of Medicine

Leora Auslander, Arthur and Joann Rasmussen Professor of Western Civilization, History

Jessica Baker, Assistant Professor, Music

Meghanne M. Barker, Collegiate Assistant Professor, Social Sciences

Lauren Berlant, George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor, English Language & Literature

Diana Bouhassira, MD Candidate, Pritzker School of Medicine

Alida Bouris, Associate Professor, School of Social Service Administration

Matthew Boyle, Professor, Philosophy

Larissa Brewer-García, Assistant Professor, Romance Languages & Literature


Matthew M. Briones, Associate Professor, History

Evelyn Z. Brodkin, Associate Professor, School of Social Service Administration

Seth Brodsky, Associate Professor, Music

Adrienne Brown, Associate Professor, English Language & Literature

Christopher J. Bryan, Assistant Professor, Booth School of Business

Adrian Camarena, MD Candidate, Pritzker School of Medicine

Elam Coalson, MD Candidate, Pritzker School of Medicine

Yoonsun Choi, Associate Professor, School of Social Service Administration

Cathy Cohen, David and Mary Winton Green Professor, Political Science

Rachel Cohen, Professor of Practice in the Arts, Creative Writing, English Department

Joshua Craze, Harper Fellow and Collegiate Assistant Professor, The College

Jessica H. Darrow, Lecturer, Director of Global Social Development Practice Programs, School of Social Service Administration

Shannon Lee Dawdy, Professor, Anthropology

Michael C. Dawson, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor, Political Science

Jeffrey Dewey, PhD Candidate, Chemistty

Claire Dugan, MS3, Pritzker School of Medicine

Kaitlin Ellis, MD Candidate, Pritzker School of Medicine

Darby English, Professor, Art History

Matt Epperson, Associate Professor, School of Social Service Administration

Seth Estrin, Assistant Professor, Art History

Eve L. Ewing, Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar, School of Social Service Administration

Gina Fedock, Assistant Professor, School of Social Service Administration

Lauren Feldman, Lecturer, School of Social Service Administration

Allyson Nadia Field, Associate Professor, Cinema and Media Studies

Ayelet Fishbach, Jeffrey Breakenridge Keller Professor of Behavioral Science and Marketing, Booth School of Business

Matthew Fowler, Postdoctoral Scholar, Political Science

Michele Friedner, Assistant Professor, Comparative Human Development

Craig B. Futterman, Clinical Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School

Angela S. García, Assistant Professor, School of Social Service Administration

Sarah Garcia-Ricketts, MD Candidate, Pritzker School of Medicine

Adom Getachew, Assistant Professor, Political Science

Yanilda Gonzalez, Assistant Professor, School of Social Service Administration

Elaine Hadley, Professor, English Language & Literature

John S. Hawkins, MD Candidate, Pritzker School of Medicine

Sharon Heichman, MD Candidate, Pritzker School of Medicine

Faith Hillis, Associate Professor, History

Denis Hirschfeldt, Professor, Mathematics        

Kimberly Kay Hoang, Assistant Professor, Sociology

Thomas C. Holt, James Westfall Thompson Distinguished Professor, History

Scott J. Hunter, Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience and Pediatrics

Travis A. Jackson, Associate Professor, Music

Destin Jenkins, Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow, History

Ryan Cecil Jobson, Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow, Anthropology

Waldo E. Johnson, Associate Professor, School of Social Service Administration

Damon Jones, Associate Professor, Harris School of Public Policy

Hakan Karateke, Professor, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Micere Keels, Associate Professor, Comparative Human Development

Beverly Kyalwazi, MD Candidate, Pritzker School of Medicine

Natacha Nsabimana, Collegiate Assistant Professor, Social Sciences Division

Natalia Neha Khosla, MD Candidate, Pritzker School of Medicine

Lauren Kruger, Professor, English Language & Literature, Comparative Literature, African Studies, TAPS

Susan Lambert, Associate Professor, School of Social Service Administration

Gena Lenti, MD Candidate, Pritzker School of Medicine

Jeff Leslie, Clinical Professor of Law, Law School

Darryl Li, Assistant Professor, Anthropology

Tracey Lockaby, Associate Researcher, Chapin Hall

Hoyt Long, Associate Professor, East Asian Languages and Civilizations

Michael Marcangelo, Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience

Miguel Martínez, Assistant Professor of Spanish, Romance Languages and Literatures

Vladimir E. Medenica, Postdoctoral Scholar, Political Science

Reuben Jonathan Miller, Assistant Professor, School of Social Service Administration

Benjamin Morgan, Associate Professor, English Language & Literature

Camille Morgan, Program Coordinator, Center for the Study of Race, Politics & Culture

Daniel Morgan, Associate Professor, Cinema and Media Studies

Anna S. Mueller, Assistant Professor, Comparative Human Development

Salikoko S. Mufwene, Frank J. McLoraine Distinguished Service Professor, Linguistics

Matam P. Murthy, Professor Emeritus, Mathematics

John H. Muse, Assistant Professor, English Language & Literature

Sianne Ngai, Professor, English

Dolores “Dodie” Norton, Samuel Deutsch Professor Emerita, School of Social Service Administration

Lola Oladini, MD/MBA Candidate, Pritzker School of Medicine and Booth School of Business

Leonie Oostrom, MS2, Pritzker School of Medicine

Julie Orlemanski, Assistant Professor, English Language & Literature

Mikhail Pakvasa, MD Candidate, Pritzker School of Medicine

Stephan Palmié, Professor, Anthropology

Jamila Picart, MD Candidate, Pritzker School of Medicine

Jennifer Pitts, Associate Professor, Political Science

Srikanth Reddy, Associate Professor, English

François Richard, Associate Professor, Anthropology

Jane Risen, Professor of Behavioral Science, Booth School of Business

Shantá R. Robinson, Assistant Professor, School of Social Service Administration

Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz, Visiting Assistant Professor, Sociology

Na'ama Rokem, Associate Professor, Comparative Literature

Danielle Roper, Provost's Postdoctoral Scholar, Romance Languages & Literature

Ingrid Sagor, Department Administrator, Comparative Literature and Germanic Studies

Zach Samalin, Assistant Professor, English Language & Literature

Gina M. Samuels, Associate Professor, School of Social Service Administration

Julie Saville, Associate Professor Emerita, History

Jennifer Scappettone, Associate Professor, English, Creative Writing, and Romance Languages & Literatures

Kristen Schilt, Associate Professor, Sociology

Connie Shao, MD Candidate, Pritzker School of Medicine

A. Holly Shissler, Associate Professor, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Olga Sinyavskaya, MD Candidate, Pritzker School of Medicine

William Sites, Associate Professor, School of Social Service Administration

Borja Sotomayor, Senior Lecturer, Computer Science

Margaret Beale Spencer, Professor, Comparative Human Development

Jamie Staudt MD Candidate 2018 Pritzker School of Medicine

Hilary Strang, Lecturer, English Language & Literature

Forrest Stuart, Assistant Professor, Sociology

Christopher Taylor, Assistant Professor, English Language & Literature

Sonali Thakkar, Assistant Professor, English Language & Literature

Anna Elena Torres, Provost's Postdoctoral Fellow, Comparative Literature

Oleg Urminsky, Professor of Marketing, Booth School of Business

Monica Vela, Professor and Associate Dean for Multicultural Affairs, Pritzker School of Medicine

Dexter Voisin, Professor, School of Social Service Administration

Lisa Wedeen, Mary R. Morton Professor, Political Science

Tyler Williams, Assistant Professor, South Asian Languages & Civilizations

James Lindley Wilson, Assistant Professor, Political Science

Miwa Yasui, Assistant Professor, School of Social Service Administration

Marci Ybarra, Assistant Professor, School of Social Service Administration

Tara Zahra, Professor, History

Faridah Zaman, Donnelley Postdoctoral Scholar, History

Lawrence Zbikowski, Professor, Music