Dismissal reasons given

By Susie Snyder

During a press conference Thursday for the NIU Black Student Union, CHANCE counselor Martha Palmer stood by her academic adviser as he publicly recited the contents of a document which contained the university’s reasons behind Palmer’s dismissal.

NIU philosophy professor Sherman Stanage read the document, a letter signed by CHANCE Program Director Leroy Mitchell, to about 45 people present at the conference. Before he began to read, however, Stanage noted that the two-page letter was “curious” because the first page had been dated Sept. 7 and the second page had been dated Sept. 12.

He said the double-dating of the letter could be an indication that the letter had been back-dated by the university. He said a reason for this would be to give the appearance that Palmer had received reasons for her dismissal before she and students protested her firing at a rally Sept. 8.

The letter began with an apology from Mitchell for not having responded sooner to Palmer’s June 29 request of reasons for her firing but went on to state that the reasons had been clearly identified to her verbally and through memos during a period of a few months.

However, Stanage said Palmer had not received any notifications prior to June 27, when she received notice that her contract would not be renewed after December.

Mitchell stated in the letter that although the university is not required to provide reasons for dismissal to faculty members “of no-rank,” he would restate the reasons to Palmer.

Mitchell’s reasons in the letter for Palmer’s dismissal included; usurpation of authority, lack of cooperation with peers, poor writing skills, lack of flexibility in adjusting to suggestions for improvement, poor judgement in student referrals and inadequate and poor record-keeping.

Morenike Cheatom, Student Association Minority Relations adviser, said at a BSU mass meeting Thursday night that she believed the reasons for Palmer’s dismissal were not adequately stated in Mitchell’s letter. Students present at the meeting applauded in agreement.

Also during the mass meeting, BSU President Tracy Deis restated the organization’s position on the Palmer issue, which she already had made public at the noon press conference in the student center’s Diversions lounge. Deis said the BSU believes “that for the good of all students, not just the CHANCE students, Ms. Palmer (should) be reinstated.”

Deis was supported at the press conference by James Brame, president of the Illinois Alliance of Black Student Organizations. Brame said that he believes Palmer’s case is connected to a nation-wide shift of emphasis from universities recruiting inner-city blacks to the recruitment of all other minorities from several different areas.

Brame said he does not feel the other minorities should be ignored, but he said he is concerned because blacks are getting less attention. “Blacks in the inner-cities need higher education, but the shift is hurting us,” he said.

At the mass meeting, Deis also read from a letter from the Sigma Chi fraternity which expressed it’s apology for having offended any black students during a Nov. 20 incident where five members of the fraternity performed a skit in blackface.

Deis said, “‘Sorry’ will not work when someone gets hurt.” She said the members who performed in the skit should not be allowed to remain in the fraternity because “one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.”

Most students at the meeting agreed with Deis and appeared to be very offended with the skit and reluctant to grant the fraternity its forgiveness.

The BSU plans to hold an anti-racism rally today at noon in the King Memorial Commons. Topics for the rally will include Northern Star editorials, the Sigma Chi incident, disrespect of the 1988-89 Homecoming King and Queen and the Jan. 1988 student center bookstore incident where four black students were accused of shoplifting.