The story of UVa’s firing of Dena Bowers continues, with UVa saying Bowers wasn’t fired for what she said, but how she said it, dozens of people holding a rally for Bowers on Friday, and the Associated Press picking up on the story today. The document that she sent from her UVa account was an NAACP document reviewing some effects of the charter plan, but it was not labeled as being a non-university correspondence. When the e-mail was widely circulated by a recipient, some of the additional recipients apparently thought that the document reflected the views of the university.
The trouble with Bowers’ firing is that, in the minds of some charter critics, it confirms (rightly or wrongly) their fear that legitimate concerns about the landmark change in university autonomy were being swept under the rug or squelched. Worse still, some university staff have worried that their employment will be more tenuous than ever under the charter plan, with Bowers’ dismissal for a seemingly-minor violation being seen as a sign that that might just be so.