More than 1,500 professors and professors of sociology have signed a letter asking the president of the University of Illinois at Chicago to reconsider his recent decision to drop out of the Sociology Department.
The letter from more than a dozen professors of academic sociology, sociology departments, and departments of history, political science, political economy, economics and law at the university was published Wednesday in the Journal of Social Issues.
The letter was written in response to the president’s decision to cancel a class at the school in January, which would have offered students a chance to study the sociology of the Civil War and Reconstruction and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan.
The class was slated to have taken place from April 20-23, with a new class planned for May.
The president of Chicago Public Schools, Dr. Michelle Rhee, announced the cancellation of the classes in March.
She cited safety concerns over students wearing Confederate flags and other symbols, including swastikas, during class discussions, as well as a threat to students’ personal safety, which led to the cancellation.
Rhee later said the school would work with the community to find a way to preserve the course, which will have been offered since the summer.
The decision to not hold the classes has caused uproar in the city and nationwide.
Rhees announcement prompted students at the Chicago campus to organize a student strike on May 12.
Some students say that’s when the school was forced to cancel classes, including classes on the Civil Rights Movement and on the role of women in the civil rights movement.
Students say that the strike, which they dubbed #BlackLivesMatter, began after the university rescinded its decision to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in March due to the controversy over the Confederate flag.