Feb

20

Update: The Professor Constantine Email

Written by

Making the rounds on the TC listserv today, an email from Professor Madonna Constantine. In the email, Constantine maintains her innocence and calls the actions of the administration “premature, vindictive, and mean-spirited.” She also indicates that she believes her race played a role in the investigation: “I am left to wonder whether a White faculty member would have been treated in such a publicly disrespectful and disparaging manner,” she said.

Constantine also criticizes TC for offering those who work speak against her “indemnification.” According to the professor, the investigation is nothing more than a “witch-hunt” and TC attempted to blackmail her into resigning. “There have been attempts by the Teachers College administration to intimidate and blackmail me into leaving the College by insisting that I sign a false statement related to the aforementioned investigation,” she said.

Full email after the jump.


Dear Teachers College Community:

I am outraged by the President’s memo that summarized the outcomes of a “neutral” investigation that I used the work of others without appropriate attribution. The premature, vindictive, and mean-spirited action taken by the administration to release a statement to the faculty regarding the results of this biased and flawed investigation reflects not only a profound lack of sensitivity and due process, but it also may have sufficiently “poisoned the well” for any fair and objective review of the matter. These actions are historically unprecedented at Teachers College. I am left to wonder whether a White faculty member would have been treated in such a publicly disrespectful and disparaging manner.

The evidence that I have presented establishing my innocence has been ignored, even when independent third parties have corroborated it. Evidence showing my accusers to have lied also has been ignored. The biased manner in which the investigation was conducted indicates it was designed to reach a foregone conclusion. My accusers who themselves were exposed to accusations of plagiarism of my work were given “indemnification” by Teachers College, to “cooperate” in the investigation. This is tantamount to giving transactional immunity. People willing to stand for the truth of what they are saying do not require indemnification. Furthermore, an investigation in which indemnification is granted to one party and not the other is certainly not neutral. From my perspective, the investigation and the entire process surrounding its outcome are reflective of the structural racism that pervades this institution.

Evidence regarding my case will be presented to the Faculty Advisory Committee at Teachers College as soon as my attorneys and I can coordinate my appeal. It is my opinion that this investigation, along with other incidents that have happened to me at Teachers College in recent months, point to a conspiracy and witch-hunt by certain current and former members of the Teachers College community. I believe that nothing that has happened to me this year is coincidental, particularly when I reflect upon the hate crime I experienced last semester involving a noose on my office door. As one of only two tenured Black women full professors at Teachers College, it pains me to conclude that I have been specifically and systematically targeted.

There have been attempts by the Teachers College administration to intimidate and blackmail me into leaving the College by insisting that I sign a false statement related to the aforementioned investigation. I refused to sign it! I would never admit to doing something that I did not do. My due process has been violated repeatedly by the administration of Teachers College. In light of the hateful events to which I have been subjected this year, I am saddened by the hypocrisy of an institution that purports to stand for social justice and equity.

Sincerely,

Professor Madonna G. Constantine

2/20/08

Tags: ,

57 Comments

  1. wow

    This is going to get ugly.

  2. seriously?

    'I am left to wonder whether a White faculty member would have been treated in such a publicly disrespectful and disparaging manner.'

    Is she for real?

    Yes, a white faculty member caught plagarizing would have been treated the same way.

    I can't really put into words how furious that statement makes me.

  3. hmm  

    i'm kinda skeptical of the witch-hunt claims. there are cases where a witch-hunt is highly plausible - if you're joseph massad, your political opinions are going to make a lot of people want to get you, and some may try unscrupulous methods. what has this woman done to provoke a witch-hunt? the letter certainly doesn't explain why anyone would conspire against her - except if she's a plagiarist. maybe such an explanation exists, but we'll need to hear more.

  4. whatever  

    imagine if a "White" professor had written:

    'I am left to wonder whether a Black faculty member would have been treated in such a publicly disrespectful and disparaging manner.'

    • well  

      you know there are some circumstances in which substituting "White" for "Black" in a sentence does actually change its truth. eg., "XXX people were enslaved in the US for a few centuries". context does, in fact, matter.

      in saying this im not saying the professor's claim is plausible. im just saying thats a really dumb argument to use against it, to the degree that it actually helps her point.

      • McFister

        "I am left to wonder whether a White faculty member would have been treated in such a publicly disrespectful and disparaging manner."

        I'm left to wonder and then dismiss the notion that a white faculty member would have been treated the same way because to accept that they might be treated the same way would challenge the victim mentality that my borrowed academic work hinges upon.

  5. silly professors  

    what makes no sense to me is why white is not capitalized and Black is.

    And she just goes right ahead and plays the race card. She says nothing to counter the allegations, she can only play the race card.

    How predictable.

  6. Wow

    She's making herself out to be quite the all-important one, isn't she?

    My question for her is, why on earth would anyone BOTHER to make up all this stuff about her? Why would it be worth anyone's time?

    There must be some truth to it, and race has absolutely nothing to do with it, other than making her look like a self-righteous moron for bringing it up.

  7. listen  

    Given the fact that she was the apparent victim (I say apparent only because nobody knows who actually did it) of a heavily-publicized hate crime, I'd imagine that administration would be very, very careful in choosing to accuse her of anything. She sorta already has permanent victimhood status, so if you're going to blindly accuse somebody of something then she's CERTAINLY the wrong person to accuse since she'll immediately cry racism. I think these accusations are very likely true.

    • McFister

      The accusations of plagiarism predated the 'hate crime.' How can you really botch an investigation of plagiarism anyway? She either copied other people's work or she didn't.

      • I didn't  

        know that, actually. Why did it only recently become serious?

      • investigating  

        plagiarism isnt necessarily an easy thing. a deliberate plagiarist with a modicum of cleverness will change things around a bit so its not necessarily obvious whether or not similarities are coincidental. an accidential plagiarist, who confuses their quotes with their own notes or lets phrases slip into their subconscious without authorship or whatever, may produce similar results. intention matters, and it could be tough to determine - especially for us speculating at second remove because we havent seen the apparently plagiarized work.

        • McFister

          Are you sure that intention matters? I'm not sure it does, although calling it unintentional is often used as a defense by the thief.

          • i agree  

            at least based on the standard we as students are held to, intention does NOT matter. profs should be held to the same standard, even ones with nooses on their doorknobs.

          • Intention  

            "Are you sure that intention matters?"

            Intention always matters, especially in legal matters. It's the difference between manslaughter and murder in the first. When it comes to plagiarism, you'd be amazed what kinds of things can be buried in your subconscious. Clever turns of phrase or characters seem to come out of your own head so easily, and to your chagrin you later realize they strongly echo a book you read years back. It happens. You can tell the difference between intentional and unintentional plagiarism because there's a low limit to how much of someone else's work will pop into your head before you realize it's not yours, whereas more deliberate theft tends to come in larger quantities that more closely match the source. But yes, intention matters.

          • Jon Kitna

            Intention actually does not matter as far as plagiarism goes. If you plagiarize someone's work and simply "forget" to cite the work, it may very well be an accident and very well may have been unintentional, however it's still plagiarism. The point you made about "murder vs manslaughter" deals with degrees of taking one's life just as intent on plagiarism deals with degrees of taking another's work. Intent is irrelevant in determining IF she plagiarized but rather it is relevant in determining how she ought to be punished. 20 some odd instances suggests her punishment should be severe, poor intentions or not it's unforgivable for a professor to be so careless, and to demand a level of academic integrity from her students while practicing a far more lax level herself.

    • "the administration"

      just to be clear, "the administration" she's talking about is not prezbo, the CU trustees, etc., right? doesn't TC have its own president+trustees?

  8. what do you  

    call a bias against marathon runners?

    Race-ism!

  9. McFister

    From the Times:

    "In 2006, the chairman of Dr. Constantine’s department, Suniya S. Luthar, passed along to administrators complaints that Dr. Constantine had unfairly used portions of writings by a junior colleague, Christine Yeh, as well as a number of students, Dr. Luthar said in an interview. Teachers College eventually asked Hughes Hubbard & Reed, a law firm, to investigate."

    It's really not too hard to follow the thread on this one. The noose thing was probably a desperate act on the part of somebody who knew the jig was up.

  10. here's the thing too

    It is SO not in Columbia's best interest to do this. If they were just out for themselves, and didn't care about academic integrity, they would have covered this up and ignored it, because this is the LAST thing they need after everything that went down last semester. Why she would accuse Columbia of being out to get her is beyond me, considering it just makes them look bad on all fronts, and risks re-opening the hate crime arguments and accusations again, which I'm quite sure they'd rather put behind them.

    • McFister

      And it's completely in the interest of Constantine to fabricate a crime of harassment and play the race card.

    • Bah!

      It is sorta positive in the sense the Columbia is willing to risk exposure like this to ensure academic integrity of its staff. Like hey, we look pretty bad right now, but a least its saying something positive about us.

      Also, I totally believe now that she hung that noose herself to deflect blame from herself. Apparently it was very successful.

  11. Show us  

    the supposedly plagiarized passages, Bwog!

  12. Madonna  

    Constantine. What a baller name.

  13. C'mon  

    I liked the commenters in the Times denouncing her placement at Columbia in the first place as an act of 'obvious Affirmative Action'. You have to admit it's suspect that Columbia would hire someone with degrees from fourth-tiered Xavier and University of Memphis, given all the other qualified applicants floating around.

    Does anyone else think that Affirmative Action means our immediate assumption is to doubt the credentials of all highly placed African-Americans in the workforce? That seems contrary to its aims.

    • spot on  

      just quoting for emphasis here: "Does anyone else think that Affirmative Action means our immediate assumption is to doubt the credentials of all highly placed African-Americans in the workforce? That seems contrary to its aims."

      I think you're absolutely right.

      • its because  

        affirmative action doesnt always capture the members of underrepresented minorities who are truly worthy of a chance to reach higher than they could given only the resources available to them. Instead, we see underqualified individuals from affluent neighborhoods do little work in school, get poor grades, and then get into an Ivy even though they don't have the untapped potential that affirmative action hopes they do.

        Instead, socioeconomic affirmative action should be implemented. That would better target the individuals who may need a boost because they simply didn't have the same tutors, AP classes, etc. that the private school kids did.

    • ughh

      "an obvious act of Affirmative Action"

      ughhh Times and Teachers, as if there weren't completely qualified African American candidates for Professorship! I don't know whether Professor Constantine was qualified, but there are certainly are competitive, well-educated, intelligent African-American candidates out there that deserve Professorship, with or without Affirmative Action.

  14. Racist University  

    20 bucks that email was plagiarized.

  15. eeugh  

    well of all the things she could have written to convince me it wasn't her who a) hung up the noose, and b) plagiarized, this email comes about last. Seriously, the lack of evidence for her claims speaks directly to her having no case to present, and the whole racism accusation is disgusting: all excuses, unfalsifiable claims, and no substantive argument to back up her claims. I know now she has motivation for the noose: she has a serious victim complex and needs sympathy in place of actual respect, admiration, etc.

    I hope she is fired ASAP and the NYPD publishes that report soon

    • dont take  

      that too far. i agree that the email is far from persuasive. i dont think that makes it evidence that she faked the noose. even if she really is a plagiarist, that could be a motive for someone else to hang a noose at least as easily as it could be for her to do it. the default assumption when we see an apparent hate crime should NOT be that the victim is faking it. of all the hate crimes in the US every year, a pretty low percentage have got to be fake.

  16. yup

    And it'll get uglier both on Bwog and in reality.

    Unfortunately, we probably won't ever get the whole story. I for one would be extremely surprised if there wasn't some substantial wrong-doing on the professor's part here.

    However, racism exists and one of the more nefarious features of contemporary racism is that it isn't always obvious and overt. Is it possible that race is a motivating factor in this investigation? Of course. Anyone with even a cursory sense of American history MUST at least acknowledge the possibility.

    If this isn't a water-tight case of academic misconduct, if most independent observers aren't convinced of the truth of TC's case, then the allegation of selective, racially-motivated "prosecution" will linger.

  17. Dafondre Rashid  

    Everybody always gonna blame the minorities. We people too.

  18. Bogeymen Everywhere

    "However, racism exists and one of the more nefarious features of contemporary racism is that it isn't always obvious and overt."

    Replace racism with communism and you sound just like Joe McCarthy.

  19. Hrm?

    So are you saying racism doesn't exist? Or that it's always obvious and overt?

  20. crap  

    "Furthermore, an investigation in which indemnification is granted to one party and not the other is certainly not neutral." No, I believe it's called a plea bargain.

    And saying "the investigation and the entire process surrounding its outcome are reflective of the structural racism that pervades this institution" is just a bizarre rhetorical leap. And 'pervades' is such a strong word.

  21. If this  

    place is so horribly pervaded by structural (as opposed to functional?) racism, why are you working here? Why don't you go to another Ivy League university where racism isn't so pervasive as to challenge your plagiarized work? Or is this your method of retaliation, to join a racist institution and ruin its reputation by publishing plagiarized work?

  22. worst  

    she stole from students? fuck you, constantine.

  23. Social What?  

    Social justice? Is she for real? Plagiarizing is wrong (and has absolutely no place in an acedemic community) no matter what your race is.

  24. McFister

    "People willing to stand for the truth of what they are saying do not require indemnification."

    Not true if the person is speaking about somebody who has a history of filing nuisance lawsuits against her own department chair.

  25. bullshit  

    can't wait till the hunger strike kids hold a hunger strike in their defense

    ahhh social justice will be served!

  26. well  

    Hold up now... I don't think anyone has enough information to make the sorts of assumptions being made on this post... they obviously don't release the juiciest details to the public so I feel like this is a pointless thread

    • Fool  

      What are the assumptions that are being made, that she is a plagiarist who stole the work of students and colleagues? Or the parts that miraculously during an investigation of her there was a convenient "hate crime" to deflect suspicion and make herself into a martyr.

      Pointless is you just your way of saying that you are going to ignore the all too likely possibility she set herself up as a victim and the reality of her shoddy academic work.

  27. also  

    In the scenario that she didn't hang the noose on her own door, don't you think it might be natural, if you were a minority, to jump to the conclusion that this plagiarism thing was about race if you had already been threatened so maliciously? Maybe she isn't thinking straight and maybe she DID plagiarize but if she didn't hang the noose on her own door then I could understand how she might lose her head and making that race association.

  28. Assumption  

    Assumption, Assumption, Assumption, Assumption, Assumption.


    I'm glad I know the facts!

    • Really now  

      What would these 'facts' be?

      That the white man is trying to keep down the black person? Or that she did in fact hang the noose herself, to get rid of that pesky Asian who was trying to stop some entitled bitch from stealing her work.

      • One fact...  

        would be that you just formulated that claim from the comfort of your own dorm room.

        I mean, if she lied about her academic work, then she MUST have lied about not only about the noose but ALSO about anything she has said that has been remotely related to race...right?

        "pesky Asian"
        "entitled bitch"

        Good work, dingleberry.

  29. Anonymous

    As a former democrat/liberal (ah, those were the days of self absorption..) and now a mature independant who graduated from an Ivy, I face the daunting challenge of helping my sons find the university that can continue to help them develop into happy successful men. I think it's impossible given the type of upside down, arse backward mentality that permiates academia today. This woman no doubt would not have been hired if she were white (judging by her undergrad schooling)and she does not deserve to be in this position. Is it just me or am I seeing this over and over again in Universities (the more elite, the more problematic). Cry wolf, play the race card, dilute the importance of your University. Watch the enrollment drop, watch the endowments dry up...lower the standards...Maybe community college isn't so bad afterall...God help us all.

© 2006-2015 Blue and White Publishing Inc.