Call on faculty, students, community members to sign onto the Stanford Letter

CARBONDALE – Southern Illinois University Carbondale Faculty Association (SIUCFA) is urging Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) administration to immediately stop its disciplinary investigation into Mingqing Xiao, Ph.D. SIUC began its investigation into Professor Xiao after learning he is facing indictment by the Department of Justice through its self-proclaimed “China Initiative” created during the Trump administration.

“We find this behavior reprehensible and frightening in a country where the rule of law and presumption of innocence is supposed to mean something,” SIUCFA President Anne Fletcher said. “We believe the federal charges against Professor Xiao should also be dismissed and further, the university should discontinue the disciplinary investigation against Professor Xiao and restore him to his teaching and research duties.”

Professor Xiao is a 30-year resident of the United States and became a United States citizen in 2006. He has been a mathematics professor at SIUC since 2000.

On April 21, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the indictment Professor Xiao, claiming inter alia, that Professor Xiao was “concealing support from the Chinese government and a Chinese university” in a grant application to the National Science Foundation. Nearly simultaneously, the university announced it was initiating an investigation into Professor Xiao, based on the indictment and removed Professor Xiao from his teaching and research duties.

“Eerily reminiscent of the incarceration of Japanese-Americans in the 1940’s and the McCarthy era witch hunts of the 1950’s that destroyed so many American lives and careers, the China Initiative fuels anti-Asian sentiments, hostility, and xenophobia. And it threatens the livelihood of our institutions of higher education, the talented professionals we employ, the students we educate, and the communities we serve.” SIUC Professor Edward Benyas said.

The SIUC administration’s actions have a direct impact on SIUC students and that could negatively impact the quality of education provided by SIUC.

“This action taken by the SIUC Administration in response to the China initiative will adversely affect STEM research and could negatively affect recruitment of talented students at a time when enrollment is beginning to recover.” SUICFA Vice President Professor Sam Pavel said.

“We urge faculty, students and the general public to familiarize themselves with the issues at stake when freedom to research is constricted with ethnicity as a main focal point by reading and signing onto the Stanford Letter, which is signed by faculty from across the country and urges the DOJ to end ‘The China Initiative.’” Fletcher said.

On Nov. 9, the SIUC Faculty Senate also encouraged the SIUC community to sign onto the Stanford Letter.

The SIUCFA represents tenured and tenure-track faculty at the Carbondale campus of Southern Illinois University and has for more than 30 years.

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At 135,000 members strong, the Illinois Education Association (IEA) is the largest union in Illinois. The IEA represents PreK-12 teachers outside the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty and support staff, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.