Rothaus is alleging that the university is prohibiting faculty and staff from talking about Calvo's case. "Antonio's dear friends, his colleagues in the Spanish and Portuguese Department, have been forbidden from speaking about this to anyone," he wrote. "I am, thankfully, not under subject to the same constraints, and, at this point, am angry enough not to care."
Below is the full version of Phil Rothaus’ open letter to Princeton:
An Open Letter to Nassau Hall from Philip Rothaus ‘11
By now, most people know that a dear friend and colleague, Antonio Calvo, “passed away” this past Tuesday. What is also clear is that Nassau Hall has been veiling the whole issue in secrecy – nobody seems to know what happened. As a member of the department and a close friend of Antonio’s, there are a lot of things I know that I wish I didn’t, but that it’s time the university community as a whole learns. Antonio’s dear friends, his colleagues in the Spanish and Portuguese Department, have been forbidden from speaking about this to anyone, but I am, thankfully, not under subject to the same constraints, and, at this point, am angry enough not to care.
What we know
1. On Friday, April 8, a representative of the administration, essentially a security guard, entered Antonio’s office (without informing either him or anyone else in the department more than a few minutes beforehand), demanded his keys and told him to leave. He was not “on leave,” and certainly not for “personal” reasons,” as per Nassau Hall’s press release. This is a euphemism for their having cancelled his contract against the wishes of the department.
2. He was under a standard 5-year review, as a result of which the Department’s enthusiastic recommendation was to continue his contract. The reappointment committee, if they performed any sort of investigation whatsoever, never interviewed a single member of the department nor Antonio himself.
3. On the morning of Tuesday, April 12 Antonio Calvo committed suicide at home in New York City. He did not merely “pass away” as per Nassau Hall’s official line.
The whole affair seems nonsensical. Why would the University physically escort a member of our community who had faithfully and enthusiastically served Princeton for a decade out of his office without notice? What purpose could this sort of humiliation serve? Why would they fire him against the wishes of the department and in the apparent absence of any reason whatsoever?
Herein lies the greatest mystery: they must have had some reason – otherwise nothing makes sense – but they continue to suppress it. They haven’t even told the senior faculty of the Spanish and Portuguese Department. There were two weeks left of classes that he was teaching, and of school for students he was advising – was he dangerous? If so, where is the evidence? And why won’t they tell even the department itself?
There is a clear effort to suppress this information – members of the faculty were apparently told they weren’t allowed to talk to Antonio for any reason after he was suspended. What right does the administration have to prevent one from speaking to a friend, even about entirely personal matters, on his own time?
Antonio is dead; the emotional violence the administration perpetrated against him has been done. At this point, the continued strangling of the truth is an act of the worst kind of institutional injustice against the students, faculty and all those who loved Antonio – and there were many. Even if Antonio did something that merited this horrid treatment, something that we, his friends, highly doubt, the student body deserves to know.
To the administration: You are denying us the information we have a right to know about our professor and our beloved friend. You are denying us closure. And you are denying Antonio justice.