The Record has an update, “Ali names art department in slur incident”, on everyone’s favorite controversy. Now that we know most of the important facts, we need to come up with a shorthand name for the scandal. Perhaps “Ali/Aida”? I like this one because it sounds nice, even though it doesn’t make much sense to use the last name of the victim and the first of the perp. More subtle would be something along the lines of “Nigaleian” (ryhmes with Hegelian) — combining the slur and its author in a way that I don’t mind putting into a family blog.

As always, suggestions from readers are welcome.

Anyway, the Record article is solidly done. Note the avoidance of Laleian’s name in the headline. It is reasonable and proper for the Record title-maker to concentrate on those aspects of the story that they are able to confirm for themselves. Much of the material is old-news to the readers of EphBlog but there are some fun tidbits.

Early speculation also highlighted the economics department, due to information posted on the department website that listed Kaye Husbands Fealing, professor of economics, as on leave this semester. But David Zimmerman, professor of political economy and chair of the department, said over e-mail that Husbands Fealing’s status is better described as part-time, not on-leave.

Ahh. That would explain why the Registrar does not show Fealing on leave. So, all my fun R programming was correct after all.

Asked her opinion of the College’s handling of the incident, Ali said, “I do not believe that the College administration has responded properly to the gravity of this incident.”

“I’m disappointed that Professor Ali feels that way, but I believe the College acted in a responsible and appropriate way,” Lenhart said in response.

“Because I am currently involved in further internal action about this matter,” Ali added, “I am unable to offer more information or commentary at this time. I hope that this information helps to stop the speculation that has needlessly plagued those who were not involved.”

Hmmm. So Ali isn’t satisfied with the sanctions? This story might have much farther to go. What “further internal action” might Ali be speaking of? Lenhardt’s e-mail suggested that the sanctioning process was over. Well, if I were Ali, what would I be looking for? Well, tenure of course! After all, how can she possible get a fair shake in studio art given that she just got one of her tenured colleagues into big trouble? This is even more true since Laleian is married, I think, to another tenured associate professor in studio art, Steve Levin.

Later in the article, we read:

As for whether Laleian is the sanctioned professor in question, Lenhart has declined to comment. The memo, he said, “addressed the particulars of the case as much as I responsibly could.” And while he confirmed Ali’s statement that an “internal action” related to the incident is underway, “I can’t talk about the details,” he said. “There is an internal process underway and I want to respect that process.”

Lenhart declined to comment on whether the “internal process” involves a re-appraisal of the College’s sanctions.

I am confused. I understand why Lenhardt (and the College) can’t publically come out and say, “It was Laleian and this is her punishment.” I think, although our lawyer readers should chime in, that it might be illegal for the College to publicize information from someone’s personal file, but I am not a lawyer. Certainly, as a matter of policy, it is reasonable for the College to stay mum.

But I would have assumed that a deal was done and agreed to by all sides over the summer. That is, if I were Lenhardt, I would have been looking for a set of sanctions that were tough enough to satisfy Ali (as well as other members of the department) and easy enough that Laleian accepted them. The last thing that I would want is for the dispute to drag into this year.

So, what happened? From a distance, it sure seems like Lenhardt has handled this well, given the constraints that he needs to operate within. I am surprised that another “internal process” is underway, unless it has to do with Ali and not Laleian. Of course, one possibility is that Lenhardt thought that he had an acceptable set of sanctions, or at least one that he felt comfortable imposing, and Laleian has decided to appeal them.

I think that that would be a big mistake on her part. Better to let the whole issue fade away. But, again, I am just guessing here. Perhaps Ali has decided — either because the sanctions were, to her mind, too lenient or because she thought about things over the summer and got pissed or because she wants some leverage on the College (when is she up for tenure, anyway?) — to go the Discrimination Grievance Procedure route, as is her right. If so, there will be much more to come in this story.

There are other interesting bits in the article, not least about the role played by EphBlog, but this is enough commentary for now.

By the way, if you read the Record on-line, you really ought to contribute. I just did and I feel better about my web-surfing already.

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