Black United Front petitions against professor’s termination

The+Black+United+Front+UIUC+%28BUF%29+is+fighting+to+retain+Lou+Turner+in+his+position+as+curriculum+coordinator+and+adviser+in+the+Department+of+African+American+Studies.+The+Black+United+Front+said+that+the+African+American+Studies+department+will+have+fewer+majors%2C+minors+and+concentrations+if+Turner+loses+his+position.+
Back to Article
Back to Article

Black United Front petitions against professor’s termination

The Black United Front UIUC (BUF) is fighting to retain Lou Turner in his position as curriculum coordinator and adviser in the Department of African American Studies. The Black United Front said that the African American Studies department will have fewer majors, minors and concentrations if Turner loses his position.

The Black United Front UIUC (BUF) is fighting to retain Lou Turner in his position as curriculum coordinator and adviser in the Department of African American Studies. The Black United Front said that the African American Studies department will have fewer majors, minors and concentrations if Turner loses his position.

Jacob Singleton

The Black United Front UIUC (BUF) is fighting to retain Lou Turner in his position as curriculum coordinator and adviser in the Department of African American Studies. The Black United Front said that the African American Studies department will have fewer majors, minors and concentrations if Turner loses his position.

Jacob Singleton

Jacob Singleton

The Black United Front UIUC (BUF) is fighting to retain Lou Turner in his position as curriculum coordinator and adviser in the Department of African American Studies. The Black United Front said that the African American Studies department will have fewer majors, minors and concentrations if Turner loses his position.

The Black United Front UIUC has started a petition to retain Lou Turner in his position as curriculum coordinator and adviser in the Department of African-American studies. Turner currently faces termination from his position after the Spring 2017 semester.

The petition, which has 214 signatures so far, cites Turner’s “history of support for Black student activists and his fierce defense of the principles of African American Studies” as the reasons for his termination.

“African American studies has seen a decrease in majors, minors and course teaching load in the last decade,” Dr. Ronald Bailey, head of the Department of African-American Studies, said in an email. “Our staff reduction is in response to these declines.”

According to the petition, Turner’s “experience and expertise” in the field makes him an invaluable asset to the department.

Turner is a former director of research and public policy for the Developing Communities Project, a faith-based organization in Chicago, Illinois. From 2000 to 2014, he worked with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) on a $2.4 billion project that extended the CTA’s Red Line from 95th Street to 130th Street, which is near the Altgeld Garden public housing project.

“Lou Turner is both the heart and the intellectual cornerstone of the African American Studies Department at UIUC,” wrote the Black United Front in an email.

The group said that Turner introduced new African-American studies students to the potential paths in the field.

“(He) challenged students to think critically about their social conditions and produced relevant, interdisciplinary scholarship that is at the forefront of critical thought and urban sociology in the United States,” Black United Front wrote.

Although Bailey could not comment on any specific staff members, he said that the budget plays a heavy role in the termination of staff members.

“The ongoing lack of state budget means that the department has been asked to operate on decreased funding,” Bailey said. “The department’s only way to absorb funding reductions is to reduce the cost of its staff.”

Black United Front said Turner’s dedication to African-American studies, kindness and willingness to not only students, but also faculty and staff makes him essential to the health of the department.

“His firing, which was without explanation, devastated many African American Studies Majors and Minors,” Black United Front wrote. “If he doesn’t return in the fall, it’s unlikely that the department will every truly recover.”

The group expects the petition to raise awareness of this “gross violation of ethics.”

They said that students were intentionally kept in the dark about the decision to fire Turner, which they find “unacceptable.”

“The petition is just one tactic Black students will employ over the next month to defend (the Department of African-American Studies) and fight for Mr. Turner’s re-instatement,” Black United Front wrote.

In addition to the petition, black and Latino students have planned a rally for Wednesday, April 19, to raise awareness about the issue, said Black United Front.

The group said they believe Turner’s termination will significantly impact the campus community. Students will lose a powerful advocate and radical voice on campus.

“Without Mr. Turner, the number of African American Studies majors, minors and concentrations will drastically decline,” Black United Front said. “Community organizations will lose an experienced scholar-activist.”

Black United Front said that this unexpected firing will cause a domino effect in different departments.

“(His termination) will likely lead to the firing of academic advisers in other gender and ethnic studies departments and programs, as well as the firing of other radical faculty and staff of color,” Black United Front wrote.

[email protected]

A previous version of this article did not include quotes from Dr. Ronald Bailey, head of the Department of African-American Studies.